We spend our entire summer at the pool. I grew up going to the pool everyday. I swam in my first swim meet at the age of 5 and continued to swim competitively until I was 18. I was also a lifeguard, swim instructor and swim team coach for years. My first child learned how to swim independently at the age of 3, swimming from one side of the pool to the other with no help. I thought I was the master of teaching kids how to swim. That is until my daughter and her stubborn self taught me otherwise. She is 4 and still can not swim, but we are working on it.
One of my biggest fear of being a mom is drowning. I have nightmares about it and can’t imagine the unbelievable pain that parents go through when it happens to their child. And it can happen to anyone, in an instant. What most people don’t know is that drowning is more often than not completely silent. You could be right next to a kid in the pool that is drowning and not know it. Again, I didn’t believe this until my daughter proved me wrong.
I like to make sure my kids know that they absolutely can not swim without a floatie. That means, I take them in the water without the floatie every time we swim to make sure they feel the difference. One of these times I let go of my daughter to see what her reaction would be to falling in the pool, thinking she would at least kick or struggle to get to the surface. She didn’t. She was as still as a board and sunk to the bottom with her big eyes just staring at me in total fear. No kicking, no screaming for help, no struggle- just straight to the bottom in complete silence. Scared me to death. I immediately grabbed her and pulled her to the surface and started teaching what to do if that ever happens again.
As a lifeguard, I had to do a few rescues on toddlers and preschoolers that had fallen in the pool. I saw them all immediately and they were all completely fine but they all were the same exact scenario. Mom comes into the pool with her multiple kids, puts sunscreen on all the kids, fix googles for all her kids, argue with a few of them about eating ten million snacks at the pool….all the things moms have to do. Meanwhile, the toddler/preschooler who usually has a floatie or floatie swimsuit wanders over to the pool and gets in thinking they can swim. And they can’t. It takes about 5 seconds of not paying attention for this to happen. Luckily, most pools have lifeguards and they are trained on these types of situations but some pools have a crazy amount of kids swimming and even the lifeguards can miss things.
There are so many other scenarios that can happen in an instant – visiting a friend’s house with a pool that’s not adequately gated or has an alarm, being on a lake without life vests, vacationing on the beach and your little one wanders to play in the waves (also happened to me). So many scary situations that can all be avoided with the right training and equipment. We need to teach our kids, even babies, about water safety and we need to be DISTRACTION FREE when we are anywhere near a body of water with kids.
7 TIPS FOR WATER SAFETY
Here are some of my tips for avoiding a tragic situation:
- ABSOLUTELY NO DISTRACTIONS AT THE POOL, LAKE, OCEAN when you are with small children who can’t swim or are beginning swimmers, especially if there are no lifeguards. Phone, magazine, gossiping…whatever it is, it needs to wait and is not worth your child’s life.
- DO NOT use swimsuits with floaties built in. This gives kids a false sense of knowing how to swim. Use a puddle jumper or something similar that is Coast Guard approved and talk to your kids every time when you put it on. Remind them that they can not swim without their floatie on and be VERY STRICT if they try to get in the pool without it on without an adult.
- Start teaching younger kids about what happens if they fall in the side of the pool even if they can’t do it yet. The more times you talk about it the better. (kick to the side, pull yourself out or hang on to the side)
- Enroll in swim lessons. Sometimes the once a week easy classes are not enough. Look into “fast track” lessons that happen every day for a couple of weeks. If you have a pool in your yard or are frequently at a place that has a pool that does not have lifeguards than you should look into survival swim lessons.
- Use “touch swimming” (within an arms reach) of beginning swimmers at all times.
- Check on bigger kids that are swimming every few minutes. I have heard of many times where even the best of swimmers drowned from getting stuck behind ladders or from horseplay.
- Get a pool fence and/or pool alarm if you have a pool in your backyard! Also, look into taking a portable pool alarm with you on vacation if you are staying at a house with a pool.
Obviously, there are so many more tips that I can go into but really the most important one is watching your kids, especially the young ones that can’t swim. Accidents happen, but drownings can almost ALWAYS be prevented. Check out some of my top products for staying safe in the water and learning how to swim.
Puddle Jumper (30-50 pounds)