With Summer around the corner, The U.S. Swim School Association has released a list of water safety tips every that every parent should know. Drowning is the second most common cause of death for children under 5 years of age. Children can drown in as little as 2.5 cm (1 inch) of water. Be water smart.

Water Safety Tips All Parents Should Know:

 

Enroll your kids in swim lessons. Start your baby in classes at 6 months old and continue them year-round.

Keep your kids under constant supervision. Toddlers should always be within arm’s reach of an adult when they are in or around water. This includes pools, bathtubs, and beaches, and other water sources.

Know CPR.  To find a CPR class taught by a certified instructor in your area, visit the Red Cross website or call (800) RED-CROSS. You can also check out this tutorial from the Red Cross, which is a good introduction to child CPR.

Install pool fences and barriers. The fence should be climbing-resistant and at least 1.2 m (4 ft.) high. Any gate to the pool area should be self-closing and self-latching.

Create a process your kid must go through before entering a pool. This can include putting on a swim diaper, a swimsuit, and applying sunscreen. Sue Mackie, the executive director of the U.S. Swim School Association, says, “If you teach your child a process and follow it, it will deter your child from trying to jump into the pool at a whim.” Mackie compares this process to a bedtime ritual for little ones.

Create a verbal cue that you must give your kids before they can enter the pool. 

Never allow your baby or toddler in the pool without a swim diaper. Swim diapers don’t get as heavy as regular diapers and are less likely to cause your child to lose his balance in a wading pool. If you use a swim diaper every time your child will be programmed to find the swim diapers and try to put one on before he or she tries to get into the pool, giving you more time to intercept.

Never use flotation devices or water wings when swimming or when teaching kids to swim.  If the child is swimming with water wings, the child and the parent are relying on the water wings to keep the child afloat and not learning to float and swim unassisted. If the child falls into the pool unexpectedly, he or she will not know how to float or find the side to exit the water safely.

Make sure your kids learn to swim without goggles and are comfortable opening their eyes underwater. This way, if they fall into the pool, they can find the side or a step and get out unharmed.

Have very young kids practice putting their entire face underwater in the bathtub and blow bubbles. This will build their comfort with water.

Create a water safety plan for your family. An important part of this is practicing water emergency drills with your kids that cover how to recognize the signs of someone struggling in water, and what to do.

Review pool rules with guests and kids before they get in the pool. If you own a pool, you should have an emergency action plan, rescue equipment, and a telephone on the deck or poolside.

Wear life jackets on boats, personal watercraft, and in open bodies of water. Remember that water wings, bathing suits with flotation devices in them, inflatable wings and other swim toys ARE NOT safety devices.

photo credit: Swimming With Dad via photopin (license)