Summer is here – are you and your kids ready and safe?

Written by: John Hale

With warmer days and summer upon us, it's the perfect time to think about getting your kids back outdoors, lots of fun in the sun and making sure they're ready to be safe and independent swimmers.

It seems like every time you read an article on water safety the same tips come up: vigilance, protective pool fences, alarms on doors…. We all read them and agree that these are, indeed, very wise pieces of advice but often think "it’ll never happen to me" when it comes to our own children’s safety.

Sadly, though, it does happen, and more often than anyone realizes – a phone call from a friend, a turned back just for a minute….. and then the unthinkable happens.  Nationwide, drowning is the leading cause of accidental death in children under five years of age and the statistics make for a depressing read. Seventy percent of all preschoolers who drown are in the care of one or both parents at the time and 33% occur at the home of friends, neighbors or relatives.  A child can drown in the time it takes to answer a telephone. And still 58% of parents do not consider drowning to be a threat to their children.

Drowning for the most part is totally preventable. So how can you help make sure that your residential pool is a safe swimming experience?

•​Constant vigilance – never take your eyes off your children, not even to answer the phone.  Delegate a responsible ‘Pool Watcher’ during parties or family events that are held around the pool.

•​Have a portable phone close by when you or your family are using a pool or spa.

•​If a child is missing, look for him or her in the pool or spa first.

•​Understand the basics of life-saving so that you can assist in a pool emergency.

•​Learn to perform CPR on children and adults – so many children die or are permanently brain damaged because CPR wasn’t performed in the time it took for emergency services to arrive.  Courses are readily available so there is no excuse. Everyone in your family should know and be able to perform it.

•​Share safety instructions with family, friends and neighbors.

•​Teach your kids to swim!  It seems obvious but statistics show that the majority of children who drown had not been taught basic water survival skills. Ballet, karate, soccer and the like are all commendable activities but only swimming lessons could potentially save your little one’s life. As with any developmental activity, swimming skills need tobe practiced in order to be retained.  Many parents make the mistake of stopping lessons once kids go back to school in the fall and are amazed they’ve regressed so much by the time spring comes around again.

•​Be aware of the dangers water possesses –  youngchildren are naturally drawn to water and do not comprehend how dangerous it can be.

British Swim Schools want to help your young family be vigilant about water safety. Consider taking advantage 6 weeks of Water Survival Courses, Baby Courses or Stroke Advancement Classes for just $99. This is an $80 Savings for NPN Families! This offer includes the annual registration fee ($35 Value) and a British Swim School swim cap ($8 Value)! Call 708-613-5179 and identify your promotion with NPN to initiate the registration process. NPN Members, click here for full details on this promotion.

Don’t let a few tears put you off. Many years ago a brother and sister (Danny and Bailey) started swimming with us.  Bailey did great but Danny cried for nearly every class he attended. After a couple of months, she withdrew him from lessons, unable to deal with the tears each week.  Less than a month later she called to re-enroll him.  Why the change of heart?  She’d been gardening while Danny ran around playing.  She didn’t notice him sneak through the pool gate nor did she hear him fall into the pool.  What she did hear was him crying.  Frantic, she searched for him and eventually found him floating on his back in the middle of the pool.  Crying but alive!

There is plenty you can do at home to educate your children about water safety and to acclimate your kids to the water.  Talk to them about ‘what would happen if..’ and come up with safety measures they can understand and carry out.  Teach them not to go into the pool if a friend has fallen in, rather look for anything that floats that they can throw into the pool to help (we call it ‘Throw, don’t go!’). Teach them emergency numbers and how to call 911. Make sure they understand to shout out for help.  All these can be valuable life saving skills and save precious minutes in a water accident.

Make bath-time fun and encourage your child to get their head, eyes and ears wet.  Encourage them to blow bubbles and to put their faces in the water.  All of these better acclimate a child to the water and help when starting swim lessons. Finally start lessons early so that your children are ready to enjoy their summers safely!

Posted on June 26, 2014 at 2:58 PM