Drowning is horrific, and the thought of childhood drowning is enough to make any of us sick. This is probably why most of us don’t spend a lot of time thinking or talking about it, but nonetheless swimming safety is important to keep in mind. In fact, current drowning statistics tell us that drowning is still the leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children between one and four years of age. This means we have to make pool safety and water safety a key point of focus in our conversations with our kids.
But, how do you actually have these hard conversations? And where do you start? Here are some tips.
Be Truthful About the Danger
Anytime you need to talk with your little ones about a sensitive subject, it can be tempting to sugarcoat the issue or skirt around it in order to keep them from feeling alarm. And while you don’t want to unnecessarily scare your children or give them nightmares, it’s important to be honest about the dangers that water can represent. Aim to be truthful, while tailoring the conversation to be age-appropriate.
One idea is to speak with them using facts, rather than sharing emotionally-charged stories that might affect them in a negative way. Convey the dangers of drowning and near drowning, along with the most common places it happens (residential swimming pools and open water sites). Let them know how quickly it can happen, and that even if they’re a strong swimmer, they could still slip near a pool, bump their head and be in danger, which is why they must always have an adult present.
Talk About Your Family’s Rules
There are some common water safety rules that everyone must follow, and it’s important for each family to discuss these as well as any additional rules you’ve established. For example, only swimming when an adult is present is a rule everyone should follow. But if you have a pool in your backyard (even a fenced one), you might also have a household rule that the kids can’t play in the backyard without an adult present.
Make sure to keep your rules short and memorable so kids can retain and recall them, and to talk about them prior to any event near water. For instance, if your little one has a friend’s birthday party to attend at a water park, you’ll need to remind them of your pool safety rules and also let them know about safety tips specific to a water park that they should know. Especially in exciting settings, it can be easy for children to get caught up in the fun and forget safety guidelines, so make sure you talk about them often so they become second-nature.
Get Started in Swim Class
As a parent, it’s imperative to remember that there’s no substitute for active adult supervision of your kids around water, even when it comes to the bath or anywhere with as little as an inch of water. But an important line of defense for your children is having the ability to swim on their own. If your kids are not already enrolled in swim class, there’s no better time than the present to get them started.
And if they have any reservations or concerns about swimming, ask them to share those with you. It’s best to keep an open dialogue going with your little ones so you can help them get comfortable in the pool, and ultimately learn water safety and potentially life-saving swim skills.
It’s never fun to talk about drowning with your children, but it’s crucial that they understand the risks that come with being around water. Share the potential dangers, reinforce your family’s water safety rules and expectations - and get them in swim class. Those are some of the best ways you can protect them. Contact us to learn more.