Teaching Children Water Safety: 4 Tips
As parents, one of the most important jobs we have is to teach our children how to be safe in different environments. We tell them not to touch the stove, to ask before petting unfamiliar dogs, and instruct them on stranger danger. One safety topic that’s overlooked too often, however, is water safety – drowning is the leading cause of accidental death among children ages 1 to 4 years old.
Whether or not you have a pool, it’s vital to teach kids how to protect themselves when near water, so start early and remind them of the rules often. Here are 4 things your kids need to know to if they want to stay cool and stay safe.
Grab A Buddy
One of the first things that all children need to know is that they should never swim alone. Young children always need an adult supervising and older kids should ask permission before going in the pool and should always take a friend with them. Even if your children know how to swim, it’s important to supervise them when they’re swimming. If someone is in danger, you won’t have time to rush from the other side of the house to help.
Surround The Area
If you have a pool or a hot tub in your house, it’s important to install protective fencing, gates, or covers to keep children from entering the pool or accidentally falling in. The gate should have a secure lock that young children can’t undo independently and you should avoid fences that are easy to climb. Many pool supply stores also sell covers with alarms that will alert you if someone climbs or falls onto them.
Teach About The Beach
Beach safety can be even more complicated than standard water safety due to unpredictable waves and riptides. If you’re headed to the coast on vacation, talk to you kids about how they’ll stay safe: only swimming when a lifeguard is on duty, remaining in view of the lifeguard, and obeying all safety signs.
With older children, check local water conditions online each day and talk about why it is or isn’t safe to swim – riptides, for example, can pull out even the strongest swimmer, so we don’t go to the beach when such tides are active.
Kids love to jump into the pool; it’s a lot of fun and they enjoy the splash. Teach children that jumping is fine as long as they’re being supervised and not jumping directly at other swimmers, but that diving is dangerous if the pool isn’t deep enough. Children should be taught only to jump into aboveground pools and never to dive into them because they are typically shallow. If your child shows significant interest in diving, consider signing them up for a class where they can learn proper technique in a deep pool.
Teaching your child water safety is one of the most important things you’ll ever do, so start early, make sure your family knows how to swim, and learn CPR for worst case scenarios. You’ll never regret being extra cautious around water.