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Dive Into Summer Safely: Water Safety Tips

Water Safety Tips

Hello summer in Houston! While the calendar tells us summer starts on June 21st, we in the

Bayou City know the truth—Memorial Day is the unofficial start of our sun-soaked season.

With temperatures climbing, many of us are already eyeing the pool, planning those beach

trips, and readying our swimsuits for some serious splashing around. It’s also time we have that

annual talk about water safety as drowning is one of the leading causes of death of children ages 1-4. Below, I’ve put together some safety tips you can review with

your little ones before hitting the pool or beach this summer.

Be Pool Wise: Safety Tips for Families

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the majority of drownings for children aged 1 to 4 occur in home swimming pools. These can include the family's own pool or pools at a friend's or relative's house. Make certain that all residential pools have a four-sided fence around the pool as well as a second fence around the yard. 

Whether it’s a backyard pool party or a community pool day, here are some golden rules to keep everyone safe:

  1. Never Swim Alone. Always use the buddy system, even at a public pool or a lifeguarded beach. It’s not just for kids; adults should follow this rule too.

  2. Watch carefully. Caregivers should never leave a child unattended near a swimming pool, hot tub, bath tub, or any other body of water. All children under the age of 8 should be accompanied by a responsible person over the age of 16 who would be required to supervise the child in the pool at all times. Adults should always be within arm’s reach of a child less than 8 years of age.

  3. Learn to Swim. It sounds basic, but ensuring everyone in the family knows how to swim is a lifesaver. "Mommy and Me" swim classes, also known as parent-child swim classes, can typically start when babies are around 6 months old. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), children can start formal swim lessons as early as age 1. Learning how to swim can reduce the risk of drowning by 88% for those ages 1-4. If a parent does not know how to swim, only a 13% chance a child in the house will learn how to swim. Many local YMCAs, JCCs, parks and recreation centers have low-cost swim lessons for all ages.  There are some minority community disparities when it comes to swimming: 64% of black children and 45% of Hispanic children have little or no swimming skills.

  4. Set Ground Rules. Before anyone dips a toe in the water, lay down the law. No running, no diving in shallow water, and stay away from drains and suction fittings.

  5. Keep Emergency Equipment Handy. A reaching or throwing aid should always be within arm’s reach. These can be life rings, foam noodles, or even a length of rope.

Beach Safety: More Than Just Sand Castles

Heading to Galveston for a beach day? Here’s how to make sure your day is more about

building sandcastles and less about close calls:

  1. Respect the Flags. Learn what the colored beach warning flags mean and obey them. They’re there to tell you about the conditions of the sea—like rip currents, which can be dangerous.

  2. Set Boundaries. Depending on their age and swimming ability, set clear limits on how far into the water children can go.

  3. Stay Within Reach. If you have young children or non-swimmers, stay within arm’s length, providing “touch supervision.”

  4. Beware of the Sun. Sunscreen, hats, and staying hydrated are part of water safety too! Sunburns and heat strokes don’t just spoil the day; they’re serious health risks.

What Do You Do if Someone Is Drowning?

Drowning doesn’t look like what you see in movies. You won’t see a lot of splashing, and there’s not a lot of yelling either. It can be dangerously silent and quick. If you see someone in trouble:

  1. Alert a Lifeguard. If one is nearby, alert them first. Their job is to rescue and resuscitate.

  2. Use a Flotation Device. If you need to help, throw them a flotation device or anything that floats. Do not enter the water unless you are trained—drowning victims can accidentally pull you under in panic.

  3. Call for Help. Someone should call 911 immediately if the situation is serious. Keep emergency numbers saved in your phone.

  4. Learn CPR. Knowing CPR can be the difference between life and death in water-related accidents. Look for CPR classes in your area—being prepared is being safe.

Little Swimmers: Floaties and Water Wings – Friend or Foe?

When it comes to toddlers and little kids hitting the water, floaties or water wings often seem

like a great idea. They’re colorful, kids love them, and they promise an added layer of safety.

However, it’s important to understand the limitations of these popular swimming aids.

The Floatie Facts:  

  1. They can give a false sense of security. While floaties can help children stay afloat, they are not foolproof. They can unexpectedly deflate, slip off, or tip a child forward into the water, and not recommended by swim safety experts. According to non-profit group Step Into Swim, who are dedicated to teaching all kids how to swim, floaties don’t allow for the synopsis between the right and left hemisphere of the brain to work correctly when learning about the water. It makes it more difficult to teach a child how to swim that started in Floaties because they never had the correct feeling of the water from the beginning. Children may feel safe wearing floaties possibly causing riskier behavior. In addition, parents may feel floaties are keeping kids safe and they are less inclined to offer close supervision.

  2. Children can become dependent on floaties and can delay the process of learning essential swimming skills. Better alternatives to floaties:

  • Swim vests. these can offer buoyancy while allowing more natural movement in the water and better positioning. 

  • Swim lessons. enrolling your child in swim lessons is the most effective way to teach your child how to swim and can reduce the risk of drowning by 88%. It helps to build their confidence in the water, teaching proper techniques, and helps to ensure safety.

  • Supervised practice. Encouraging your child to practice their swim skills in safe environment is crucial to building strong swimmers. 

Remember, no tool replaces the vigilant eyes of a parent or guardian.

As we prepare for those sunny days by the pool or beach, let’s equip ourselves not just with

sunblock and snacks, but with the right knowledge and precautions to ensure that every splash

is a safe one.

As I say, “preparation is your best protection.”

Happy swimming!

Gail Gould

CPR and Safety Lady

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