Sometimes it seems the only way to beat the summer heat is by submerging in a body of water, whether it’s a pool, lake or the ocean. Although swimming, no matter where, is a fun and relaxing activity, it also comes with significant risks. Drowning is the second largest injury killer of children ages 1-14, preceded only by birth defects. In fact, three children lose their life to a drowning incident each and every day. Keep your kids safe this season by ensuring they are strong swimmers, teaching them the proper safety precautions and paying close attention to them anytime they are in a body of water.
Most drowning accidents occur in an open body of water, such as a lake, pond or the ocean. It is important for kids and adults of all ages to wear life jackets when swimming or floating in these waters—no matter how strong of a swimmer he or she is. Even if your child is laying on a floatie or raft, they should still wear a life jacket. Not all floatation devices are life saving. Open waters are unpredictable, and a big wave or wake can take out anyone, even an experienced swimmer.
When it comes to pools, many parents believe that once a child finishes swimming lessons or turns a certain age, he or she is ready to swim without a life jacket. But drowning incidents have more to do with swim skill strength than age or previous education. In reality, 47 percent of children ages 10-17 who drowned in a pool had reportedly attended swim lessons. Everyone learns at a different level, and just because your child’s friends are swimming without a life jacket does not mean that your child is ready to swim freely. Before letting your children in the pool without protection on a regular basis, make sure they can perform the following tasks easily without a life jacket: jump into water above their head and return to the surface, tread water for one minute, turn in a full circle and find the exit to the pool, swim 25 yards and exit the water without using a ladder. If your child can pass this test, he or she is likely skilled enough to swim freely in a pool.
No matter how strong of a swimmer your child is, you still must pay close attention anytime he or she is in the water. If a child is struggling to stay afloat, it takes less than 60 second for them to be completely submerged. From that point, death takes just a few minutes, meaning most drowning accidents that lead to death take less than five minutes. Although it is tempting to turn away from your swimming children at a Fourth of July lake party, staying nearby and watching your kids without distractions could save their life. If you see your children struggling in the water, pull them out immediately and have them take a rest break before getting back in. After a long day of playing, kids get tired and cannot swim as strongly as they could at the beginning of the day. Regular breaks ensure your child has enough energy to stay afloat in the water.
Stay swim-safe this summer by recognizing your children’s swimming strength, requiring life jackets in open waters and paying close attention to your kids when they are in the water!