Water play is a great way to cool off and spark learning and fun for your little fish. But it also comes with some serious safety risks. Most recently, The German Lifeguard Association — the world’s largest lifeguard organization — issued a warning to adults on phone distraction.
In the U.S., drowning rates are highest among children one to four, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). And most of drownings occur in home pools.
To make sure Indiana families are in the know of swim and water safety, we compiled some lessons along with a few tips to discuss with little learners from our friends at Indy Parks.
Swim & Water Safety Tips
1. Be cool, follow the rules.
Before your child cannonballs into the pool, be sure to talk to them. Take time to discuss pool rules and why they’re important. Here are a few basic, but important rules to remind them of:
- Use walking feet.
- No diving in shallow water.
- Don’t get in the pool or body of water unless there is a lifeguard on duty or an adult watching.
- Never go to a pool alone.
Also, point out any lifeguard stands and first aid stations. Talk to your child about the role of lifeguards. Make sure they know who to go to if help is needed.
2. Supervised swimming with a buddy.
No matter how much experience they’ve had in the water, young children aren’t strong enough swimmers to be on their own. Remind your child under the age of nine to stay within arms reach of an adult at all times while in the pool. Older children should swim with a buddy in a supervised area.
3. Practice floating positions.
Wrangling your child into the back float may not be easy, but it’s an important skill for them to learn. Before attempting it, explain why it’s so important.
Activities to try:
- Floating in different positions – front float, survival float and back float
- Breathing control – blowing bubbles while floating
- Rolling over from front to back
4. Look before you leap.
Teach your child about water hazards. Share that they need to make sure the coast is clear before jumping in. Discuss what children should look for before they jump in the water. Make it fun: have them look and then jump into the pool while yelling “Look Before You Leap!”
5. Think so you don’t sink.
Help your child identify safe ways to help themselves if they have trouble in the water. A few examples are:
- If they get too tired:
- What to do: Float and rest on their back before trying to get out and call for help.
- How to prevent it: Rest frequently out of the water.
- If they choke on water:
- What to do: Relax. Tread water or float on their back while coughing.
- How to prevent it: Learn good breath control. Never eat or chew gum in the water.
6. Wear a life jacket.
Sinking and floating is an early science concept that child care programs often discuss in the classroom. You can use your child’s knowledge of sinking and floating to discuss the importance of a life jacket.