By Daniel Snyder
Water safety is a topic that impacts all families. Labor Day is one of the biggest beach and pool weekends of the year, so it is a good time for families to brush up on basic water safety reminders.
Drowning is the number-one cause of injury-related death for children ages 1 to 4 and it kills nearly 1,000 children every year. Formal swimming lessons reduce the likelihood of childhood drowning by 88 percent.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently published updated recommendations on water safety, recommending that all children should enroll in a learn-to-swim program by the age of 1.
Any time kids are around water, designate a “water guardian” who will avoid cell phones, conversations, and anything else that might distract the adult from watching children. Most children who drown are supervised. Adults should practice “touch supervision” for young swimmers and keep them within an arm’s reach at all times. Many drownings happen during non-swimming times, so make sure that there are barriers to prevent children from accessing water alone.
Enroll children in high-quality swim lessons where kids will focus on mastering “water competency skills,” as a few lessons here and there are not enough. Water safety should be top of mind year-round for all families.
There are several basic skills that instructors at Goldfish Swim School work on with students every week. They include Fin, Fin, Belly, Flipper, which works on getting in and out of the pool safely. Help your little ones learn how to get out of the pool by manipulating their bodies in this order: elbow, elbow, tummy, knee. Jump, Turn, Swim to the Wall enables your child to jump off the side of the pool to you, help them physically turn back to the wall and then assist them in getting out of the pool by using the Fin, Fin, Belly, Flipper method. Do this over and over again. As they get more confident, let them go under the water and come to the surface on their own. This teaches kids to automatically turn back to the wall behind them to climb out. If a child were to fall into a pool, this skill could help them find the quickest way to safety. Last but not least, Rollover/Sea Otter Float helps you work with your child on turning over and getting their faces out of the water to take a breath when he/she fatigues.
Floaties, noodles, plastic inner tubes and other water toys do not protect against drowning. Life jackets should be designated as U.S. Coast Guard-approved. It is important to make swimming a family activity, so get lessons for adults who do not learn how to swim and practice swim skills together to keep swimming fun.
Children should continue in swim lessons throughout the fall and winter to ensure that they retain these essential skills through consistent practice.
Daniel Snyder is the regional manager of Goldfish Swim School in Garden City and Farmingdale.