Lake and pool season is in full swing and it’s always the right time to brush up on water safety. Accidental drowning is the leading cause of death in children ages one to four, and the second leading cause of unintentional injury death in children ages one to fourteen years old. It’s important that we teach children to respect, but not fear, the water.
Last week, we learned about environmental hazards and parental vigilance as key to water safety. This week, we’re looking at swim lessons and floatation devices, in partnership with local swim instruction provider, Atlantis Swim Academy in Burnsville.
WATER SAFETY & SWIM LESSONS
The CDC states that participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning among children and young adults. Swimming instruction should start at a young age. The younger they are, the higher the likelihood that they’ll grow into being more comfortable and secure around the water. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends lessons starting at age 1, stating that recent studies suggest that “water survival skills training and swim lessons can help reduce drowning risk for all children including those 1-4 years.”
“Water safety is important to start developing at a young age. A drowning can happen in [shallow] water, it’s important that a child learns how to keep themselves safe around water,” explains Atlantis. Atlantis offers classes to children as young as 2 years old in order to help them get a jump start on water safety.
In parent-child and toddler classes, look for instruction in survival instruction such as floating and learning how to roll over in the water. These are skills taught in parent-and-me classes at Atlantis, as well as in the toddler classes. It is also important that parents reinforce water survival with their child at home, says Atlantis, as they ask parents to teach their child that should they ever fall into the water, they should roll over onto their back, float and yell for help. “It’s imperative that children develop this skill at a young age in order to decrease their risk of an accidental drowning.”
The American Red Cross states that there are five important basic water safety skills that children should learn that could save their lives in water:
5 Basic Water Safety Skills Everyone Should Learn
The ability to:
1) Step/jump into water over their head
2) Return to the surface and float or treat water for one minute
3) Turn around in a full circle and find an exit from the water
4) Swim 25 yards to the exit without stopping and
5) Exit from the water (able to exit without using the ladder)
Swimming instruction should not lull parents into a false sense of security, however. 47% of children ages 10-17 who drowned in a pool reportedly “knew how to swim.” As stated above, parents should continue to provide active supervision for their children around water until their child is a competent, mature swimmer, and always have their children use the buddy system.
Last, it is not enough for just the child to know how to swim. Parents should also learn how to swim, so that they can assist their struggling swimmer. Atlantis Swim Academy also offers adult swim lessons.
WATER SAFETY & PERSONAL FLOATATION DEVICES
Your child should always wear a correctly fitting US Coast Guard approved life jacket while on a boat, fishing off a dock, or engaged in other water-related activities where adult supervision will not be provided 100% of the time.
However, even though life jackets, arm floaties, and Puddle jumpers are great tools to keep our children safe around water, children frequently use floaties or PFDs may have a false sense of security, not understanding that they cannot stay afloat without them. Children may have removed the PFD, and then either forgetting they took it off, or unaware of their limitations, jumped back in.
Additionally, most swim schools encourage parents to provide opportunities for the child to swim without a PFD (with adult supervision), so that the child does not grow accustomed to the unnatural balance and vertical positioning PFDs provide, or rely on the support provided. Swimming requires a child to learn to move horizontally through the water and to use both arms and legs, but PFDs typically position a child vertically and inhibit arm usage.
Having said that, you are the best judge of what your child needs and their safety is your number one priority.
Atlantis Swim Academy. “It’s never too late to enroll in swimming lessons! We know that starting swimming lessons can be scary, not only for the child but for the parent. In order to make the process as easy as possible, Atlantis hires trained professionals who are passionate about working with children. Each instructor has received a certain amount of training in order to qualify them to be an instructor. Our instructors are kind, patient, and dedicated to teaching your children how to be safe both in and around the water. We offer generalized lessons as well as family lessons and accelerated classes in order to accommodate to whatever suits you and your family.” Atlantis has warm water swimming pools (92 degrees), is designed to accommodate babies, toddlers and children of all ages and abilities, and has state-of-the-art equipment and filtration. You can contact them by visiting their website at https://www.atlantisswimacademy.com/