My wife and I are worriers. We cut grapes in half, our two-year-old continues to sit rear-facing in her car seat, and we struggle with the swimming pool. The pool hasn’t been a relaxing summer activity for us for a few years now. No poolside reading, no suntanning or chatting with friends. We are never more than five feet from our kids, ages four and two.
And rightly so. Just take a look at some of these statistics*:
- Seven people drowned in central Ohio in May alone. Two were young children, and another was a teenager. Three were kayakers.
- From 2012 through 2015, 463 people drowned, and 71 of them were residents of central Ohio, according to the Ohio Department of Health. Preliminary numbers for 2016 show that 109 Ohioans drowned, 13 of whom were central Ohioans.
- The total of at least 572 drownings in Ohio from 2012 through 2016 speaks volumes about the need for more attention to water safety.
Those numbers are tough to read. Those numbers are also why we are worriers near the water.
Thankfully, our son, Xavier, is learning how to be safe and confident in the water thanks to his lessons at Goldfish Swim School in Dublin. In the last two weeks, we have vacationed in Florida and spent time at our local pool. With Xavier’s experience at Goldfish and the success he is having learning new skills, he LOVES the pool, and he’s learned to swim around, hold his breath underwater, and float on his back.
Two months ago he couldn’t put his mouth in the water without inhaling a big gulp. Now he shows off how he can put his head under and come up unfazed. He’d also float on his back for hours if he could. With his swim vest on, he paddled around the pool in Florida for an entire morning.
Before the last two months at Goldfish, Xavier’s experience in the pool would have been quite different. Now, we think we have a swimmer on our hands.
While summer might be coming to its halfway point, going over these water safety tips** is always a good idea, no matter how many days you’ve spent at the pool.
- Assign a designated watcher: Never leave a child unattended in or around water. “maybe you rotate every 20-30 mins even if there are lifeguards. I tell my family, you should always be your child’s first lifeguard,” said Armitage.
- Know how to swim: Making sure your kids know how to swim is the best way to stay safe in the water. Even for kids who “know” how to swim, lessons are still beneficial.
- Always swim with a buddy: No matter your age or skill level, always swim with at least one other person. “definitely have a plan in place. So talking to your children ahead of time, letting them know where you are going to be where the meeting point is going to be and really setting the expectation up front.”
- Safety Equipment: Ensure that there are life preservers and U.S Coast Guard-approved life vests available for all swimmers, and have a first aid kit onsite as well. Keep a phone nearby. You probably always have your phone nearby to be able to take pictures of your kids doing cute stuff while swimming — but you need to be ready to call 911 if needed, too. Learn CPR and rescue breathing. Every second counts in an emergency, and you’ll be able to help until medical professionals arrive.
- Respect the Water and No Rough-Housing: Even skilled swimmers can get hurt in the water. It’s dangerous and children of all skill levels need to respect it.
Summer isn’t over yet. There are plenty of pool days ahead, especially for our family. We’re grateful that our oldest is learning the skills he needs to have the confidence and to stay safe in the water.
*From a June 7, 2017, Columbus Dispatch article titled “Stay Safe on the Water.”
**From a May 27, 2017, story on ABC 10 TV with Lisa Armitage of Goldfish Swim School http://www.10tv.com/article/5-tips-keep-your-family-safe-while-swimming