This past weekend was the unofficial start of summer in NC with the weather near perfect and everyone excited about Memorial Day activities. The community pool in our neighborhood opens up at this time and we become frequent visitors from the start. This past weekend we met up with some of her friends at their community pool and had way too much fun out in the sun. Maddie, as usual, was incredibly excited and oftentimes I think that she thinks that she can swim already. Now that she's four and has shown interest, I definitely feel that it's time for her to learn.
Since I didn't learn how to swim until I became an adult, and still don't feel that I can swim very well, I'm extremely cautious about water safety at the pool each summer. She and I talk quite a bit about what to do and what not to do; how she needs to stay close to mommy, remember not to run around the perimeter, stay away from the drains, etc. Call it paranoia, if you will, but I believe it's important for parents to be vigilant when it comes to water safety and help their children to not only love the water but to respect it as well.
Children between the ages of 1 and 3 represent 64 percent of reported non-fatal drownings (2012-2014) and 65 percent of fatal drownings (2010-2012), according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
Below are the ABC&D’s of water safety that every parent should keep in mind this summer:
- Adult: Never let children be alone near or in a pool, ocean, lake, or river. Even if your child is a great swimmer, they should be taught to never swim without an adult present.
- Barrier: Have a four-sided fence that goes around your pool with a self-locking gate.
- Classes: Kids and adults should take safety classes like swim lessons and CPR.
- Drains: ALL swimmers should stay away from all pool and spa drains to avoid becoming trapped by the suction.
I recently became aware of the dangers of pool drains through The ZAC Foundation, which is named for Zachary Archer Cohn, who died in 2007 at the age of 6, after his arm became trapped by the suction of a pool drain. Children and adults can end up pinned against a pool drain or have an object attached to them sucked into the drain causing entrapment. I encourage you to take a moment to look at this video that explains what makes pool drains so very dangerous. The ZAC Foundation wants to ensure that children and their parents know how to be safer around water through education and advocacy programs. The ZAC Foundation provides a wealth of water safety tips, and resources/programming (i.e., ZAC Camps) for parents and children of all ages (birth to teenagers). The Foundation targets children ages 5-9 with most of their safety programming.
I'd also like to say that as an African American, two of the CPSC statistics really stick out to me:
- African American children between the ages of 5 and 19 are 5.5 times more likely to drown in pools than white children that age, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- The disparity in swimming ability is greatest from 11-12 years; at these ages, African-American children drown in pools at 10 times the rate of white children, according to the CDC.
For these reasons and many more, I think it's extremely important that children, especially African American children, be introduced to water early, learn how to be safe in water and be taught how to swim as soon as possible.
Since Maddie enjoys being in the water; jumping in while I catch her, dunking her head under water, and pretending to swim while someone holds her, I figured it is due time that she take lessons. So, she's been registered to take preschool swimming lessons twice per week this summer at our local YMCA. She's so excited about it and I can't wait to see how she progresses!
We're planning to spend many days poolside having a blast, so I hope that you have a great summer enjoying the water as well. But more than anything I pray that this summer is a safe one for you and your family!
P.S. If you're looking for a fun kit to kick start your summer, be sure to enter the giveaway below which includes The ZAC Foundation Children’s Book: The Polar Bear Who Couldn’t, Wouldn’t Swim, a beach towel, wristband and water watcher card. Good luck!
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.