June 6, 2014

Get Water Wise

By Katie Ozarka
Augustana College Student Intern
Child Abuse Council

Summer months meant one thing to me when I was a child: swimming! I remember learning how to swim at a young age. My sister would hold my sides as I flapped my arms, plugged my nose and ended up with water in my eyes. Once I learned how to swim by myself, I would love to play outside in our inflatable pool, have swimming contests with my friends, and most of all soak up the summer sun. These are the memories that I will always remember. My parents and I would take trips to water parks in the area, and we would visit the local public swimming pool. These are the types of summer activities that keep children active and enjoying their summer vacation. Although swimming can be a great activity for summer, there are safety precautions that should be taken before allowing a child to be near any type of water. As a child, I never understood why the lifeguards always yelled at the kids to stop running or to stop playing rough in the water. As the years passed, I learned that water can be more unsafe than people realize. It is important to teach a child at an early age why water can be dangerous. Here are some helpful starters in teaching your children the safety steps when around water.

Supervision: Teach your child that they need to be with an adult if they are near any type of water. Having your child ask for permission is the first step in ensuring their safety around water. Drowning is the second most common accidental cause of death for 5-24 year olds. Children can drown in 2 inches of water, so it is important to have supervision near retention ponds, fountains, the bathtub, the beach and water locations where you least expect drowning to occur.

Learning How to Swim: A typical child learns how to swim around age four. Be sure to sign your child up for swim lessons to ensure confidence in or near water. There are many local gyms and centers that offer swim classes for children of all ages. For free swim lessons, you can choose one summer to teach your child in an at-home pool. Even if your child can swim confidently, be sure to still have supervision over him or her. Children at all swimming skill levels are at risk for drowning.

Temperature of the Water: One aspect of water safety that is commonly overlooked is the warmth of the water. Sometimes the hose water can be cold, even in high summertime temperatures. Depending on the age and activity of the children, water should range in temperature from 82-86 degrees Fahrenheit. Teach your child to slowly enter the water to make sure he or she is comfortable with the temperature. One tip for at-home inflatable pools is to wake up early in the morning to fill up the pool, let it sit in direct sunlight for several hours to ensure the water is warmer, then allow your children to swim in the afternoon.

The Child Abuse Council provides programs and services to children and families that focus on prevention, education and treatment. For more information visit us at www.childabuseqc.org.

Filed Under: Family, Health & Wellness