Swimming Safety Tips for Kids
Over the years, my kids have come to LOVE our road tips because it means that we will be staying in a hotel… with a SWIMMING POOL. In fact, my oldest daughter decided that she wanted to go to a hotel for her birthday this year. Because she is a little older and becoming a little less cautious and a little more daring, I wanted to know some good safety swimming tips for kids to teach my daughter for our upcoming birthday trip this weekend. Here is what I found.
Swimming is a fun activity, but dangerous, the following safety tips will help ensure a fun and memorable day at the pool. They are: Always have an adult supervision, invest in swimming lessons, be able to complete basic swimming task, use personal flotation devices, always swim with a buddy, Know the pools rules, never play “breath holding games” and lastly, have fun!
Let’s take a closer look at these safety tips.
Always Have Adult Supervision
Kids should never be left alone or unattended while swimming regardless if the pool is 5 feet deep or 1 foot deep. It is extremely important to always have an adult or life guard on watch. Kids don’t understand the dangers nor do they have a full understanding of common sense practices to keep themselves safe.
Often times, the supervision responsibility is passed on to the oldest child or teenager because the parents are either “too busy” or think that their oldest child is responsible enough to watch the kids while they do other stuff. This is the last thing you want to do because in today’s world of technology, teenagers are often distracted and don’t see the importance of watching little Billy play in a the pool that is only 6 inches deep.
Additionally, it takes training to recognize when someone, little brother or sister, is struggling, hurt or drowning and can lead to the child becoming unconscious. With the lack of oxygen, the time frame from unconsciousness to brain dead is slim. By the time the older sibling is aware of the dangers, they would need to run inside to get mom or dad, and then get back out to save them.
It’s just not worth risking their lives to allow an untrained person to supervise kids while in the water.
Swimming Lessons for Kids
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, swimming lessons for kids under the age of 4 does not protect them from drowning. While the AAP is not against swimming lessons for toddlers and preschool age kids (ages 1-4) they have adopted the age of 4 to begin formal swimming lessons because kids are “unable to voluntarily hold their breath for a significant amount of time until that age” and therefore recommends swimming lessons for all children age 4 or older. This is not to say that there is no benefit to early introduction to swimming, just that the ideal age to start kids in formal training is 4 years of age.
Swimming lessons are a great way to help build your child’s confidence in the water and respect the rules of the pool. Two of my kids took swimming lessons this past summer, while they are not able to swim by themselves, they have gained basic skills and a much better appreciation of the dangers of the water and tend to be more careful when swimming whether in our back yard or at the hotel swimming pool.
Be able to Complete Basic Swimming Task
If you plan to attend a water-themed park or be in an environment where the life guard has to watch 50+ individuals at a time, it is vital that your child be able to complete some basic swimming task. Here are some suggested task to learn before going to the crowed swimming pool.
1- Jump in the water and resurface safely.
2- Swim stationary or float for a minimum of 1 minute
3- While in the water, pivot or turn completely around, making a 360 rotation
4- Swim 25 yards independently
5- Independently exit the swimming pool from the edge or ladder to the pool.
6- Rehearse the rules for the pool.
7- Be able to identify where the life guards are located.
Always Swim with a Buddy
I almost put this in the list of basic swimming task mentioned above, however, I feel that it is more important and should be addressed here separately. Kids should always have a swimming buddy regardless if you are swimming at your own home or at a community pool. Having a swimming buddy will ensure that they are never left completely unattended.
I can remember when I was about 9 or 10 and my family had gone to the community swimming pool with another family. My parents had paired us up with a swimming buddy. I was swimming across the pool when I was bumped by some much older kids playing water frisbee. I swallowed some water and began to panic and was struggling to keep my head above the water. My swimming buddy saw this and quickly alerted my mom who quickly came to my rescue. I didn’t remember the experience until my kids started swimming in the little pool in our back yard and I have implemented it ever since with them.
Use of Personal Flotation Devices
Depending upon the activity, you may want to have your child use a personal flotation device or life jacket.
Flotation devices are not designed to prevent drowning but rather to assist or help the individual swim a little easier. These may include arm floaties, float tube, or other fun and creative floating items that are fun for the back yard kiddie pool.
Coast Guard approved life jackets are designed to prevent drowning and should be used whenever possible. Life jackets are designed to fit a specific age or weight of the individual and should stay within the approved parameters to ensure the safety of the individual.
When purchasing any swimming or floatation device, you should do your research and read the reviews before purchasing the item.
Safety should be your number one concern regardless of whether your child is wearing a life jacket or personal flotation device. A good practice is to always be within arm’s length of your child to ensure their safety.
Know the Pools Rules and Regulations
Community, hotel and themed swimming pools will have rules and regulations that must be followed if you want to swim. Knowing these rules is extremely important and are there for your own protection.
Some of these rules may include the following:
1- Age restrictions
2- No running or diving
3- Open operation times
4- No food or drinks
5- Shower before swimming
6- No life guard, swim at your own risk
7- No rough play
8- No spitting in the water
9 – No breath holding games
By teaching your kids to be aware of the rules and regulations you will help them enjoy the pool and stay safe.
Never Play “Breath Holding Games”
We’ve all seen it, and I’m sure probably played them when we were younger. You’re playing in the water and messing around when your friends challenge you to a game to see who can hold their breath the longest.
It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt, or worse, dies. This “game” has become such a problem that hotels, and public swimming places have begun placing signs around the pool to prevent this. It would be fair to say that this is the new “No Running or Diving” rule.
Teach your kids that this is not a game and that there are some real world consequences to not following this rule whether in your own back yard or at the hotel swimming pool.
This is the best rule of all! Have fun! While there are many dangers associated with swimming, there is a whole lot of fun to be had in the back yard, at the local YMCA or on the lake with family and friends. By following these safety tips, you’ll have a fun time in the water and your kids will be better for it too.