Summer days spent around in and around a swimming pool are fond memories for many Americans. Unfortunately, for too many of us, those happy times can quickly turn to tragedy. According to the CDC, after car accidents, drowning is the most common cause of injury-related death among kids ages 1 – 14.
There are basic steps that families can take to help protect their kids from drowning. These include all of the following—no single item on this list should be relied upon alone, they work together to keep us safe:
- Close supervision of children in and around the water.
- Solid fencing and other barriers around pools and spas to prevent unsupervised use.
- Use of Coast Guard-approved life jackets or floatation devices for non-swimmers (unapproved devices such as “water wings” or “noodles” can cause a false sense of security among adults and should not be used in place of approved life jackets. Check the safety rating of what you’re using).
- Avoidance of alcohol—both for those swimming and for those supervising.
- Avoidance of long breath-holding underwater. This practice can cause individuals to pass out (a.k.a. ‘shallow water blackout’) and then drown.
- Use of the buddy system—kids can help supervise each other.
But perhaps the most important step families can take to prevent drowning is:
7. Enroll children in formal swimming education.
In addition to teaching them skills that just might save their lives, swimming lessons have other great benefits as well:
Swimming lessons help increase children’s confidence and self-esteem (as does mastering any new skill). Children who’ve participated in formal swim lessons are less likely to be fearful of the water, and are therefore more able to enjoy those long summer days at the pool. We’ve already talked about summer weight gain. Swimming is a great way to keep kids active over the summer (and when you have access to indoor pools like the ones at the Simon Family JCC, swimming can keep a kid active all year long).
The Simon Family JCC has several options for swim instruction, including private lessons and group instruction for children and adults. What’s more, campers at Camp JCC receive swim instruction daily as a part of their camp day. Call or stop by the Center today and sign up for the mode of instruction (or camp!) that’s right for your family. You’ll definitely have fun, and you just may save a life!
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