Splishin’ and Splashin’

Your guide to water safety this summer.

Swimming is the most popular summer activity, but it is not without risks.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death among children ages 1-14, and about 60% of drowning deaths among children occur in swimming pools.

So, with that in mind, we’ve put together a few of the most important safety tips.

SWIMMING LESSONS

If your child doesn’t yet know how to swim, it’s time for swimming lessons. The Austin Parks and Recreation Department, civic groups like the YMCA, and numerous private instructors offer age-appropriate lessons. Being a capable swimmer is the single most important factor in water safety.
Colin’s Hope is a local organization that has great resources on water safety. Their website has downloadable water safety games for kids, like bingo and word find exercises that can be a great way to get a conversation started with your children about safety. Parents can test their water safety know how with this quiz.
SWIMMING PRECAUTIONS

Choose locations where a lifeguard is on duty. The vast majority of drownings each year occur at unguarded locations. When on vacation, keep in mind that many hotel pools do not have lifeguards, but merely a sign that says “swim at your own risk.”

Never let children swim alone. Even when a lifeguard is present, parents should maintain constant supervision of children whenever they’re around water. We recommend that an adult is assigned to watch the kids instead of just assuming that another parent is doing it.

Have young children and inexperienced swimmers wear life jackets around water. But never rely on life jackets alone.

Even when not swimming, be careful around ocean shorelines, rivers and lakes. An accidental fall into these waters can be very dangerous due to cold temperatures, currents and underwater hazards.

If you have a home pool or hot tub, don’t leave unused toys nearby. Toys can attract young children to the pool. As an added precaution, make sure there are barriers that prevent children from having easy access to the water We recommend the pool be fenced and gated and/or an alarm on the gate or backdoor so no one wanders in the pool unnoticed.

SWIMMING EMERGENCIES

If a child is missing when near any body of water, check the water first. When someone in the water is in distress, seconds are crucial in preventing death or disability. We urge parents to take basic CPR classes. Check the American Red Cross for classes in your area.

Having fun swimming and playing in water is one of the joys of childhood. Observing these safety tips can help keep it that way.