Summer, Swimming & SAFETY!
Summer is here — the sun is shining, and it’s time to take the kids to the pool. The kids are soon out (of school) and so are the dangers associated with summer, kids and water! Families are taking vacations, visiting the beach and pool parties are abundant. With all of these great fun activities comes an increased necessity to be vigilant about the dangers around water. One way to help minimize these risks is to follow our S.W.I.M. tips for summer water safety:
- SHARE with your children the risks. One of the easiest things you can do this summer is share with your children the risks of swimming alone; there should ALWAYS be an adult present. It is important to emphasize that children ALWAYS need to ask permission before going into the pool. Swimming with a buddy, can and should be an adult.
- WATER Watcher Tags. Water Watcher Tags are an easy and simple tool that you can use to make sure there is always a set of eyes on the pool. A Water Watcher is a person, designated to watch the pool for a short set of time. This is ALL they do — watch the pool and the children in it. They do not talk to others. They do not go get a drink. They do not talk or text on their cell. All they do is keep the pool area safe, by watching vigilantly. The Water Watcher is symbolized by wearing a “Water Watcher Tag.” You can easily make or obtain a tag through a number of Water Safety Organizations (see resources below). It is the responsibility of the Water Watcher to ensure that everyone in the pool is staying safe. After a person has performed their Water Watcher duty for 10-15 minutes, they pass the tag on to the next adult who now assumes the Water Watcher responsibility.
- INSTALL and use layers of protection around your pool. Pool safety isn’t as simple as buying one device that will keep your family safe all summer long, such as a fence. The key is to have numerous ways to make sure everyone stays safe. Install double fences — one around the yard and one around the pool. Install pool and door alarms. Install upper and lower locks on the doors. Other ideas include having children wear a bracelet (Safety Turtle) or a device that will signal you if trouble arises, especially if you live near a pool. One of the most important layers of protection to keep your children safe this summer is swimming lessons.
- MONITOR for new potential hazards. Summer presents a new and constantly changing set of water safety hazards. It is really important that parents remain cautious and address any new hazards that may arise. One of the biggest potential hazards are temporary, above-ground pools. (Be sure to take down the ladders after use!) Another is flooded retention ponds or storm runoffs that are a result of heavy rain. Finally, when you go on vacation, it is important to identify all of the potential hazards that are present around your hotel, camp area or even a friend’s home.
S.W.I.M.: SWIM LESSONS ARE ESSENTIAL!
When will my child be Water Safe? Our goal for our children is always for them to be successful, whether it be gaining the benefits of infant swimming or gaining skills to be on a swim team. Every parent wants their child to be safer in the water. “When will my child be safe in the water?” is not an easy question to answer because nobody is ever completely “water safe,” not even the best of the best, including Michael Phelps. Accidents CAN happen. Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death in children under the age of 5 in the U.S., and Florida leads the nation per statistics from the Florida Department of Health. Layers of protection can help, and this includes SWIM LESSONS! In a recent study, the National Institute on Health found that formal swimming lessons reduce the risk of drowning by up to 88%. It has also been shown that children who started swim lessons at an early age are more developmentally advanced: intellectually, physically and socially than children who did not learn to swim early on. (Griffith University, Australia, 2013).
Where can my child take swim lessons? You can Google “Swim Lessons in Jacksonville” to see all of the great nearby recommendations. Be sure to read reviews and ask around for opinions from mom friends who have good experiences at local businesses. One place that has been offering swimming lessons in the Jacksonville area and comes highly recommended is Swimming Safari Swim School. This Swim School offers year-round, indoor lessons with a beautiful indoor, 90-degree, salt water pool. You don’t have to wait until the water and air warms up around Jacksonville, nor do you have to watch out for thunder and lightning. Swimming Safari has lightning protection as well as showers, a changing area, a play area and comfortable seating for parents, all inside.
Swimming Safari Swim School recommends for children under age two for the parent to accompany them in the water. Swimming with the most important person in their lives provides a wonderful bonding experience that can happen when the parent is in the water with their baby, helping them to learn how to do a Survival Float, as well as learning buoyancy, balance and breath control, in a fun, safe environment. All levels are offered at Swimming Safari, from infant to adult, including swim team. All instructors have over 50 hours of advanced training in and out of the water in addition to CPR and Life Guarding. Water Safety education children seminars are available for your group or class for free by calling 904-260-1836 (limited availability).
Yes, Summer is coming, and it’s filled with fun. But remember the important S.W.I.M. tips:
- Share with your children the risks.
- Water Watcher Tags.
- Install and use layers of protection around your pool.
- Monitor for new potential hazards.
Additional resources for swim safety topics mentioned: