|Via Flickr – by Rob Brewer|
We have had more than our share of rain over the last month and now a swamp surrounds our house.
But, the sun is shining today, and it won't be long before we are lamenting the lack of rain. It will be hot, and then super hot, and we will want to go swimming.
My guest post today is by Patricia Sarmiento from Public Health Corps . She approached me to do a guest post about pool safety and water safety and I knew my readers would want to know how to educate their children on this important subject.
Swimming is a great activity for children to do either recreationally or competitively on a swim team. Also, May is Pool Safety Awareness Month, so continue reading to brush up on water safety before you head to the pool or lake with the family.
My kids and I are jumping for joy. Warm weather is finally here, and for us that means it’s time to head to the pool. I’m convinced my kids and I might really be part fish because we all love the water. And I’m only exaggerating a little when I say that over the next four months or so we’ll spend most of our waking moments in the pool.
That said, when pool time rolls around each year, my kids know it’s time for my annual lesson in pool safety equipment. When my kids were little, it was very important to me that they learn to swim. It’s a skill that can literally save a life, and I wanted them to be as protected as possible around the water. But once they were old enough, I also wanted them to have knowledge of and respect for the life-saving equipment found at pools.
Therefore, each year, prior to our first outing to the pool, I start by going over some general pool safety with my kids. I just discovered this comprehensive guide to swimming safety -- it offers a great overview. Then, my kids and I go through a lesson in safety equipment. (For homeschoolers, this could be a great lesson to squeeze in near the end of the school year!). Here’s what I discuss with my son and daughter each year:
The Life Preserver
Without fail, this portion of the lesson goes something like this: I say, “This is not a float. It’s a life preserver. It is not a toy.” My kids, “But it looks like a float, mom.” Me again, “Trust me, it is not a float.” Then, we practice the proper way to use it. For a little help in how to guide them, eHow.com offers a five-step tutorial. Chances are your kids will enjoy this part because they get to throw the life ring into the pool and practice “rescuing” each other. My kids certainly do. I’m just careful to stress throughout that they’re learning a vital skill and that it’s important to take it seriously.
Poolsafely.gov provides great information for us parents on the legal requirements for drain covers. My lesson to my kids is to stay away from the drains. If a drain isn’t covered, they know they should let an adult know immediately. It’s also important to stress they should never stick their hand, arm, or any body part down the drain. And as I always have to say to my son, “Yes, even if your toy goes down there!”
Before we step foot in the pool, my kids and I revisit how and when to use the shepherd’s hook. For a little help in figuring out what to teach them, try DeAnza College’s piece on how to rescue a drowning victim. In addition to explaining how to use the shepherd’s hook, I also go over what my kids should do if they’re in trouble in the water and someone offers the hook to them.
We were blessed with one of the greatest things—a neighbor with a pool! And thankfully, they have a great safety fence. Of course, when kids see a fence, they see something to climb. I stress to my kids the importance of the barrier, explaining that when parents aren’t around pools can be dangerous, even if you know how to swim. The fence is there to protect them and other children and should be respected.
A few times every summer my kids and I take a break from the pool and go for a boat ride on my father-in-law’s boat. There’s a great lagoon area he always takes us to that is a great place for swimming. Of course, swimming in a lake, river, ocean, or other natural body of water is a different beast from swimming in the pool.
As the Red Cross notes in its checklist on how to swim safely in lakes, rivers, and streams, everyone should always wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket when taking a dip in natural water. Each year, my kids and I make a game of inspecting the life jackets to make sure they’re functioning properly and that they don’t have any structural damage.
I recommend you go over the entire Red Cross checklist with your family. It includes great sections on water and weather condition awareness, rules for swimming in natural water, what to do if someone is in trouble in the water, and more.
Obviously, this will not be your kids’ favorite part of their summer swim sessions. But mine know that if they don’t respectfully listen to and participate in my pool safety lessons they won’t be allowed to swim with their friends. Do it often enough, and you’ll get to experience the pride I felt last summer when after the child of one of our neighbor’s out-of-town friends jumped into the pool wearing their life ring, my son confidently told him, “Uh, that is NOT a float.”
Patricia Sarmiento is a health and fitness blogger. She lives in Maryland with her son, daughter, husband, and the family dog. She loves writing about health, wellness, fitness, and other health-related topics. An avid swimmer and runner, she makes active, healthy living a constant goal.