Advice from the swim and water safety experts at Goldfish Swim School
By Phil Tan, General Manager of Goldfish Swim School West Houston (opening summer 2016)
The month of May marks the start of summer activities for Houston-area families! Hooray for summer! May is also recognized as Drowning Awareness and Prevention Month. This is a time to ensure that every family is educated when it comes to water safety. So, what do parents really need to know when it comes to supervising kids around water? What can we do to make sure that our kids are safe anytime they are in or around water? How do we have fun in the water while also ensuring that everyone plays it safe? As a parent and the General Manager of Goldfish Swim School of West Houston, the topic of water safety is something that I take seriously.
When it comes to drowning, the statistics are pretty staggering. Drowning is the leading cause of injury death to children ages one to four—and the second leading cause of injury death for children ages one to 14, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
What’s more, statistics show that thousands of children are hospitalized each year for nonfatal drowning incidents, with a significant number sustaining lifelong, profound, permanent brain damage. Also, a child can drown in as little as one inch of water and in as little time as 20 seconds.
Here are some practical water safety tips that all parents and caregivers need to know:
- Any time kids are around water, designate a “water watcher” who will avoid cell phones, conversations, magazines and anything else that might distract the adult from watching swimming children EVERY SINGLE SECOND. After all, most children who drown are supervised.
- The American Red Cross says that the number one thing that parents can do to keep kids safe around water is to enroll them in swim lessons. Swimming is an essential life-saving skill with numerous physical, mental and intellectual benefits.
- Get swim lessons for yourself or any other caregiver who cannot swim or is afraid of water.
- Realize that floaties, noodles and plastic inner tubes do NOT protect against drowning. They are created as water toys, not life-saving devices. Life jackets should be designated as U.S. Coast Guard-approved.
- Know that even the most seasoned swimmers can still encounter trouble. Make sure swimmers don’t over-estimate their skills and that they understand the importance of staying hydrated at all times.
Regardless of skill level, here are some MANDATORY water safety skills that all parents and adults must be familiar with:
- Climbing out of the pool safely: Elbow, elbow, tummy, knees!
- Holding on to the wall and walking their hands along the wall to safety: the steps or ladder.
- Rolling over from a front float to a back float.
- Jumping off the side of the pool, swimming to the parent, turning themselves around and swimming back to the wall. Teaching to get back to the side of the pool quickly is an essential safety skill.
I encourage you to think through these reminders every time you are around water with your kids — whether you are at a pool, backyard birthday party, a beach vacation or even the bathtub. Have fun in the water together — but keep safety in mind at all times!
Goldfish Swim School of West Houston (opening summer 2016) provides swim instruction to children ages 4 months to 12 years in a unique setting with highly trained instructors, small class sizes, shiver-free 90-degree pools, and a state-of-the-art water purification system. For more information or to pre-register for lessons, please visit westhouston.goldfishswimschool.com.