Last summer, we spent most of our water play time at splash pads because my kids didn't have much experience in water and there was no way I can handle two in the pool. But there was a day last June when when we experienced a pool in a way we never imagined.
You can read the whole story here, and many of you already know it. But, suffice to say that we "never thought it would happen to us" and I have never felt the same way about water since then. I knew a few things had to change:
1. Swim lessons. We are fortunate to have access to them, and I am grateful for Goldfish Swim School's emphasis on water safety.
2. Deliberate talks about water safety. Krissy, Rhys' swim instructor encourages us parents to ask the children (often!) "What do you do if you fall in the water?", "What if your brother fell in the water?"
3. A total mindshift in supervision. Just because kids are not IN the water doesn't mean they will stay that way. My water-shy 4 year old had no intention of getting in the water that night, but it happened, even with 8 attentive adults standing there. Looking back, one of us should have been either in the water near her, sitting next to her, or she needed a lifejacket on while sitting on the side (even though life jackets are no substitution for supervision).
So, enough from me. I wanted to share a bit from the experts at Goldfish.
Goldfish Swim School's number one focus is swim safety, and owner Lisa Armitage encourages families take these five precautions around water:
- Respect the Water: Even skilled swimmers can get hurt in the water. It's dangerous and children of all skill levels need to respect it.
- Swim Lessons: Everyone needs to know how to swim. But once you've equipped your child with swim lessons, your job is not over. One of the key lessons at Goldfish Swim School is if a child falls in the water, have them turn around, keep their head above water and swim to the edge they came from. Kids often think the easiest way out is across the pool, but they might be closer to the edge than they think.
- Designated Watcher: Never leave a child unattended in or around water. Make sure there is a designated watcher or lifeguard on duty and ensure that kids aren't in the pool alone. Drowning can happen in the time it takes to send a text message or answer a phone call.
- Safety Equipment: Ensure that there are life preservers and life vests available for all swimmers. Avoid inflatable swimming aids such as "floaties," which are not substitute approved life vests and can give children and parents a false sense of security.
- No Rough-Housing: Drowning is a leading cause of injury related death for teenagers, and kids who are rough-housing can go unconscious even if they know how to swim.
I know my children are not in swim lessons to become the next Michael Phelps. I literally have them in lessons to save their lives. Every time we are in the tub, we talk about water safety. Even last night, Larkyn surprised me by saying "If Rhys fell in, I'd jump in to get him". NO. Yell and yell like crazy for help and if anything, throw one end of a towel in for him to reach.
Another eye-opener was the idea of keeping the pool totally clear of loose toys. They should be stored somewhere else or used in the pool while the child is supervised. See how motivated Rhys is to get those floating toys?
Ahhh!! I cringed when I looked through our vacation photos of our pool. I would not put it past Rhys (not Larkyn, she hated water at this age) to reach in to grab one of those tempting toys.
I have learned that smart children, children we trust, are still children. Older children may play on icy ponds, little ones may see their sibling slip in and panic (and consequently react in a tragic way) while you are momentarily distracted. There will be moments when supervision unfortunately lapses, and if they know what to do, it could save their lives.
For further information, read here: