Safe swimming tips for Georgia kids and parents
Springtime brings a fresh new season of adventure for kids of all ages. With spring break set to begin this month in Georgia, children across the state are eager to get out and have fun. Many kids will spend their vacation splashing in swimming pools, lakes, and even the ocean.
Help your child enjoy the water safely
Swimming is great exercise and a lot of fun, but it comes with certain risks. That’s why lifeguards are often posted at pools and beaches. These 6 safety tips will help keep your child safe when they’re in or near the water:
1. Stick around.
Never leave babies alone in a swimming pool or wading pool. When babies land face down in the water (from slipping or rolling over), it can be hard for them to turn over. Bathing seats and flotation devices are a helpful way to keep this from happening, but your full attention is even better.
2. Teach your children to swim.
While knowing how to swim doesn’t guarantee against drowning or other accidents, it’s an important skill for anyone who spends time in or near the water. It’s also a wonderful way to keep fit.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children are usually ready to start learning after their 4th birthday.* With a quick web search, you’ll find several community programs offering lessons in your area. Most will let you sit in on a class to make sure it’s a good fit for you and your child.
3. When boating or fishing, life jackets are a must.
Air-filled swimming aids (like rafts and water wings) are great in the pool. On a boat or a dock, they’re just not enough. Always make sure your child wears a life jacket on such outings. If you’re concerned that one won’t be provided, invest in a life jacket that your child can own.
4. Practice and teach the “feet first” rule.
A good rule for kids and grownups alike, entering the water feet first allows you to safely determine the water’s depth. It’s also a safer way to make sure there aren’t any unseen hazards under the surface.
5. Stay in designated areas.
Avoid bodies of water that haven’t been deemed safe for swimming. At public beaches, stay within the established swimming zone (it’s usually marked with buoys). This not only ensures that the water is safe to swim in, but also keeps swimmers close enough for help to reach them quickly in case of an emergency.
6. If you have a pool at home, make it hard to get to.
If you have a pool, make sure it has a cover that locks. Keep patio doors locked and sliding doors braced with a broomstick in the lower frame. A surrounding fence is a good idea, too.
The value of a watchful eye
With any outdoor activity, it’s a good idea to keep your child in your line of sight at all times. That way you’ll always be ready to help if your child gets into trouble. Think of it as a way to take that “never miss a moment” mentality to a whole new level.
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*Policy Statement. Swimming Programs for Infants and Toddlers. American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Sports Medicine and Fitness and Committee on Injury and Poison Prevention Pediatrics 2000;105(4) (reaffirmed October 1, 2004).