Swimming Safety for ChildrenJun 29, 2016
Splish! Splash! Children seem to be naturally drawn to water. They can splash in it, float on top of it and dive through it. Water can be a welcome relief from the summer heat and a source of unlimited enjoyment. But it also can be dangerous. Approximately 1,000 children drown each year, most often in the home swimming pool.
Parents can keep their children safe around water by following these do’s and don’ts to avoid health risks while still having fun.
- DO teach children how to swim. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends swim lessons for children starting at age four when they are developmentally ready for formal swim lessons.
- DO supervise children at all times when they are in the water. Just because children know how to swim does not mean they are safe in the water.
- DO remove toys from the water so children are not tempted to retrieve a toy.
- DO get out of the water if weather turns bad, especially if there is lightening.
- DO have a cordless or cell phone nearby in case of an emergency.
- DO use waterproof diapers for babies. It is important to change diapers often because babies can spread the parasite cryptosporidium through fecal matter.
- DO allow a child with a water-safe cast to swim if the doctor has approved. Plaster casts should not get wet.
- DO keep children out of the water if they have swimmer’s ear.
- DO surround your pool at home with a fence that is at least four feet tall. The fence should have a self-closing and self-latching gate (latches should be out of the reach of children).
- DO empty blow-up pools after each use.
- DO stay in designated areas at the beach or lake.
- DO look out for underwater grass or weeds that could entrap a leg or arm.
- DO wear aqua socks or water shoes at the lake or beach to protect feet from jagged rocks, trash, or broken glass.
- DO have children wear life jackets when boating.
- DO watch out for currents and tides at lakes or beaches. Check with local authorities to determine whether they have posted warnings for dangerous tides. Some beaches fly colored flags to provide visual warnings.
- DO tell children to avoid jellyfish or Portuguese man-of-wars and ask for adult help if they are stung.
- DO make sure water park rides are appropriate for the child’s age, size, and developmental level.
- DO teach children to go down water slides feet first and face up. The “feet first” rule also applies to jumping into any body of water until you are sure of the depth.
- DON’T let children dive into a body of water without first checking the water depth.
- DON’T allow electrical appliances or glass around the water.
- DON’T allow children to swim with an open sore, cut or scrape.
- DON’T allow children with ear tubes to dive. Swimming may be allowed pending physician approval.
- DON’T allow children to run around a pool, roughhouse, or push others into the water.
- DON’T allow children to play near or sit on a pool drain.