Swimming Safe this Summer!!
With the summer just around the corner, the mothers are getting frantic about engaging their toddler into a variety of summer activity classes.
As far as I know “swimming” is one of the most popular activities in summer!
Children love to play in and around water, but no matter where you find it – in a bucket, bowl, toilet, tub, sink, puddle, or pool – water could be dangerous. For a safe play time in and around water, make sure her outdoor play area doesn’t have even a small source of water. If your child is playing near water (like at a park with an area for water play), keep an eye on her, always.
And, at a pool or the beach, it’s fine to let her splash and play to her heart’s content – as long as you supervise and stay close. Always remain within arm’s reach of any child who can’t swim well.
What about water safety in the bathtub?
The most important thing to remember is to never leave your young child unattended in a bathtub. If the phone rings and you must answer it, wrap your child in a towel and take her with you.
Other ways to help keep your child safe:
Cover the bottom of the tub with a rubber suction mat to prevent slipping, and fill the tub with only 3 to 4 inches of warm water. If your baby can’t sit up securely on her own, support her back so she stays upright.
How can I keep my child safe in the pool or at a lake?
You may want to wait until your baby can hold up her head on her own (usually by 4 or 5 months) before taking her swimming in a pool or lake. When your child is old enough to go into the water with you, in my opinion here are some steps to follow to stay safe:
Be prepared and take an infant/child CPR course.
Any time you’re near water, have your child wear a personal flotation device (PFD) that fits properly and is approved by the U.S Coast Guard. Don’t rely on inflatable toys (like water wings) to keep your child safe in the water.
Should my child take swimming lessons?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), a couple of small studies have found that swimming lessons for children ages 1 to 4 may lower the risk of drowning.
And some kids may not be developmentally ready for swim lessons until they are at least 4 years old. Whether swimming lessons are right for your child depends on how often she’s around water and her physical abilities.
And as soon as you start bringing your child to the pool or lake, begin teaching simple water safety rules including:
- Don’t go near water without an adult, and use the buddy system in the water.
- Never dunk another child.
- Don’t run on the pool deck or boat dock.
- Always jump in feet first.
Even children who aren’t talking yet are able to understand a lot more than they can say. Teaching water safety early makes sure your child is familiar with the basics of water safety as she gets older and learns to swim.
What should I do if my child slips under the water?
Whenever your child is in the water, it’s extremely important not to leave her unattended, even for a second. If she slips under for a moment during a bath or while playing in the pool, she’ll probably come up coughing and sputtering.
But if she’s been underwater for longer than that, you’ll need to move calmly and quickly. Follow these steps:
Lift your child out of the water.
Gently tap or shake your child to see if she responds. If she’s unresponsive, isn’t breathing, or if she has no pulse, immediately start infant/child CPR.
If someone is nearby, shout for help and tell them to call 911. If you’re alone with your child, perform CPR for two minutes and then pause to call 911.
Keep doing CPR until your child begins breathing on her own again or until emergency personnel arrive.
If your child has come close to drowning, immediately take her to the emergency room for a complete medical evaluation. Even if she appears fine, she may have inhaled water and stopped breathing, which could cause lung or nervous system damage.
When your baby is 6 months old, you can join a parent-child swimming class. Your child probably won’t be developmentally ready for formal swim lessons until age 3 or 4, at least.
Pointers to look in a swim class:
A warm pool, which makes getting in much more comfortable, and a class with no more than 10 parent-child pairs
Class placement: Find out how children are placed in various levels and exactly what will be expected of your child in class.
Class size: If your child has special needs, has trouble learning in groups, or is especially anxious around water, consider signing him up for private or semiprivate lessons. But in general, it’s a good idea to have your child at least try group lessons.
Staff: In a group class, there should be at least one instructor for every six preschoolers or eight school-age children. No matter what the class size, the ratio of staff to students should be small enough so that teachers can give each child individual instruction in addition to the group activities. There should also be a lifeguard on duty at all times.
Teacher credentials: Ask what training the instructors received and what certifications they hold. The YMCA, for instance, requires that instructors have a current YMCA lifeguard or aquatic safety assistant certification as well as a specialized instructor certification for the age group they’re teaching. Other programs may require that teachers be certified water safety instructors through the American Red Cross.
Class organization: Kids learn best when they know what to expect, so each class should have a consistent schedule that strikes a balance between skill time and play time. The class should follow a logical progression of swimming skills. (For example, children should master breath-holding before they’re asked to dunk their heads underwater).
Instruction style: The teacher should clearly demonstrate what she’s asking the kids to do. She needs to know what children are capable of at various ages but allow each child to master new skills at his own rate. Make sure that the teacher’s tone is always supportive and positive.
Downtime and swim time: Notice how much time each child has to wait for a turn with the instructor. Even in group classes, there should be more “doing” than waiting. While the teacher is spending individual instruction time with one child, the others should be busily (and safely) practicing their new skills.
Class management: Take note of how well the instructor manages her class and handles misbehavior. The kids shouldn’t be allowed to splash or dunk each other or run around the pool.