The Water Safety Skills That Could Save Your Child's Life This Summer

5/3/18 - By Anna Fader

FACT: Most kids who drown were supervised. Let that sink in. While accidents do happen from babies being left alone in tubs or a toddler falling into an unattended pool, the most common way is while grown-ups are around, but not paying attention.

According to the CDC, drowning is the second leading cause of injury death for children ages one to 14. It is the number one cause for children four and under! And thousands more are hospitalized for these incidents.

The point isn’t to shame parents. We are human beings. Tragedy can strike in 20 seconds, and, while we should never take our eyes off our children when they are in the water, life happens. That’s why the American Red Cross advises that the best way to keep children safe is by teaching them how to swim. Even an infant can be taught skills that could save their life.

So, I’m grateful to our sponsor, the swim and water safety experts at Goldfish Swim School, in honor of Water Safety Month, for helping us to put together these very important water safety tips and skills you can teach your child. Please share these with every parent or caregiver you know:

  • Any time kids are around water, even if there is a lifeguard, designate a “water watcher” who will avoid cell phones, conversations, magazines and anything else that might distract them from watching swimming children every single second.

  • Floaties, noodles and plastic inner tubes do not protect against drowning. In fact, they can provide a false sense of security for little swimmers and their caregivers and actually lead to incidents. Also, make sure any life jackets you use are U.S. Coast Guard-approved.

  • Even the most seasoned swimmers can still encounter trouble. Make sure swimmers don’t overestimate their skills and always swim with a buddy.

  • Get swimming lessons. Swimming is an essential life-saving skill, not only for children, but even adults who don’t know how to swim or are afraid of the water can take swimming lessons for basic safety proficiency.

  • Learn about riptides. At our area beaches, riptides are a serious danger responsible for drownings every summer. Learn how to spot them and what to do if you get caught in a riptide.

In addition to these tips, there are several basic skills the water safety experts at at Goldfish Swim School work on with students every week in swim lessons. Parents can practice these skills with their kids anytime they are in the water together:

  • Fin, Fin, Belly, Flipper! Help your little ones learn how to get out of the pool by manipulating their bodies in this order: elbow, elbow, tummy, knee. Practice this often; you can even do this on your living room floor by having your baby climb onto a couch or chair. Learning how to do this will make sure they can get themselves out of a pool on their own.

  • Jump, Turn, Swim to the Wall! Let your child jump off the side of the pool to you and help her physically turn back to the wall. Then assist your child in getting out of the pool by using the fin, fin, belly, flipper method. Do this over and over again. As your child gets more confident let her go under the water and come to the surface on her 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 is the quickest way to safety.

  • Sea Otter Float. Teach your child how to turn over and get their face out of the water to take a breath. This skill can help them safely rest in the water until help comes.

Goldfish Swim School has New Jersey locations in Wyckoff, Livingston, Middletown, Manalapan, Mount Laurel, Closter and Denville coming soon. Goldfish Swim School provides swim instruction to children ages 4 months to 12 years-old in a unique setting with highly trained instructors, small class sizes (max 4:1 student to teacher ratio), shiver-free 90-degree pools, and a state-of-the-art water purification system. In addition to swim lessons, Goldfish Swim School also offers weekly family swims (for both members and non-members) and birthday party packages. Click on the link for the town closest to you to see details.

All photos courtesy of Goldfish Swim School.