June 2, 2023 — By Wendy Sachs

Most kids we know are part fish in the summer. Kids of all ages love the water. And whether you are enjoying your own pool, a community club, the beach or nearby lake, being safe around the water is job number one for adults when swimming with kids. Here are some friendly reminders.

  • Assign each child a pair of eyes. Often times we are all socializing in groups around the pool. It is easy for everyone to think someone else is watching the kids. Make a point to assign each kid a pair of eyes. If that person needs a break, make sure the pass off the responsibility to another pair of eyes. Supervision is key.
  • Games are fun, but holding your breath is one game that can turn dangerous quickly. Discourage kids from competing for that title as kids can easily hyperventilate and pass out.
  • Enter water feet first. Until your child is old enough to have professional diving instruction, it is better to be safe. Feet first is the way to go.
  • For younger kids and those who are not strong swimmers, always be within arm’s reach of the child. Drowning can happen very fast.
  • Make sure there is always someone in the group who is CPR certified. If something happens, seconds count and having someone who has training can make all the difference.
  • If you have a pool, be sure it is fenced and be sure the latch is 54 inches from the ground.
  • Check your yard for large containers like plastic bins or planters that could collect water and become a drowning risk for toddlers and infants. Children can drown in as little as 2 inches of water.
  • Turns out the lifeguard is right– always walk, don’t run, near the pool or other bodies of water. The risk of slipping is high especially on pool decks with tile.
  • Strict rules, no matter your style in other areas. Even if you are a big softie on rules in your home, children should have strict rules when it comes to water. We never get in the bath or the pool unless an adult is right there. This includes just putting your feet in the water.
  • Set time limits and give kids a break. No kid will ever tell you they are tired, but kids will tire easily with the added physical activity and the warm sun. Kids should sit in the shade and take a break every so often depending on their age.
  • Remember that floaties, puddle jumpers, water wings and rafts are just an aid. They won’t prevent drowning. Even if you are using a coast guard approved vest, stay vigilant.
  • Get your kids into swim lessons. Most pediatricians will advise that kids aged 4-5 are old enough to learn to swim. Some programs are offered for even younger kids. Do the research and make sure any program you choose has small class size, teaches kids what to do if they fall in a pool and to float on their backs. Even strong swimmers can drown so this measure will help but nothing replaces your careful, undivided attention.