As parents, we want to ensure that our children are safe and protected at all times. As daunting as that task can feel, you can lessen the load by starting with the basics. Remember: safety skills start at home. The sooner you can instill some safety awareness in your child, the better off they will be.
Drowning is a leading cause of unintentional death for children under the age of five. When you teach your kids the basics of water safety, you can significantly reduce the risk of water-related accidents. Follow along below as we break down the four key tenets of water safety that every child should know.
1: Understanding of Aquatic Environments
Before your child steps into the water, they should have a basic understanding of the environment they are about to enter. Bodies of water can be unpredictable, and it's crucial to educate them about standing water, moving water, breaking waves, and strong currents. Explain the difference between the still water they can see in pools or the bath and moving water, which refers to canals, rivers or streams where water is continuously flowing.
If you plan on taking your kids to the beach, waves are an essential topic to cover before you go. Breaking waves occur when waves break on the shore, and strong currents are prevalent in oceans and larger bodies of water. It's essential to educate children on how to identify these environmental factors and the potential dangers they pose. Teach them to stay away from bodies of water and swim in designated areas under adult supervision only.
2: Entering and Exiting the Water Safely
Entering and exiting the water safely is a crucial part of preventing water-related accidents. Children should never jump or dive into a body of water without knowing its depth and checking for underwater obstacles. It's also essential to educate your kids on how to exit the water safely, whether it's by using a ladder or heading to a designated exit point. Additionally, children should never run near bodies of water, as the ground can be slippery, increasing the risk of falls and accidents.
3: Swimming Skills
Swimming is an essential skill that all children should learn. Even if they are not proficient swimmers, it's crucial to teach them basic swimming skills that can help keep them safe in the water. Submerging underwater, floating in water with the airway above the surface for a minimum of 30 seconds, gliding, and kicking are all essential swimming skills that children should learn. These skills can help them stay afloat and conserve energy in case they find themselves in a challenging situation in the water.
4: Rescue Skills
(The Ability to be Rescued by Grasping Poles and/or Clinging to Floatation Devices)
Nobody wants to think about their child being in danger, point blank. Should something happen, however, you need to make sure that your child knows how to help the rescue team get them out of harm’s way as quickly as possible. Do a dry run of rescue practices on land before getting near the water. Have your child practice grasping onto a pole or holding onto a flotation device. Repeating these habits several times over will help them remember what to do if they ever need rescuing from the water.