Swimming safety for children and parents
Published 7:00 am Friday, June 2, 2017
One of the most popular ways to cool off during the summer months is to take a dip in a local pool, but according to the Centers for Disease Control, drowning is the second leading cause of death for children between the ages of 1 and 14.
More children from 1 to 4-years-old die from drowning than any other cause, except birth defects, the CDC website states.
But there are some easy ways to prevent drowning, especially in young children.
One of the most common problems stems from parents or guardians not paying as much attention to young children who are around a pool as they should, Caroline Whitfield, swim instructor and lifeguard supervisor at The Cornerstone, said.
“All it takes is one second,” Whitfield said.
Even if a child is playing in the baby pool, they can still be in danger, she said.
“Children can drown in a foot of water,” Whitfield said.
The CDC states that for every child who drowns, five more receive emergency treatment for non-fatal pool related injuries.
Horseplay that becomes too rough poses a significant risk, Whitfield said.
If a child’s head is dunked underwater for too long, they can start breathing in water, she said.
But the biggest problem, in children and adults, is running on the pool deck, Whitfield said, despite a lifeguard’s warning to slow down.
“I perform more first aid from kids running than anything else,” she said.
It’s also important for children to become acclimated to the water at a young age and learn that there is nothing to fear, Whitfield said.
“A lot of times parents will pay me to teach their child to swim, when I’m just as qualified as they are,” she said. “They are going to be more comfortable with mommy than with a stranger.”
Making swimming fun by playing games will teach them that the water can be a safe place, Whitfield said.
If teaching a child to swim at home is chosen, Whitfield said that a child should never be thrown into the pool if they don’t know how to swim. She also said it’s never a good idea to yell at a child while teaching them to swim.
Children need to see that the water is safe and parents are at ease in the pool, Whitfield said.
If a child has never had lessons, they should always wear a flotation vest, she said, even in the baby pool.
Children as young as 1 or 2-years-old can also be taught to flip over, float on their back and cry if they ever fall into a pool, Whitfield said.
“It is so important, especially if parents have a pool in the backyard,” she said.