5 Super Common (But Potentially Dangerous) Water Safety Myths

posted: 06/25/15
by: Mara Betsch
swim safety little girl swimming

When the temperature begins to spike, who doesn't want to cool off with a quick dip in the pool or the ocean? However, all this time near the water comes with a sobering downside -- 14,000 kids ages 19 and under drowned between 1999 and 2010. And 40 percent of those were between 1 and 4. Luckily, the good news is the accidental drowning rate has been on a decline for decades. But there continue to be misconceptions that could put parents and kids in harm's way. Take a look at five common water safety myths.

My child is too young for swim lessons

Though the the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) used to advise against swim lessons for children between ages 1-3, they've changed their tune after studies showed that preschoolers who had taken swimming lessons were less likely to drown. Now, local pools often offer classes for parents and children as young at 6 months old, which typically involve teaching children to float on their backs. But when you should you start your child on swim lessons? That's a trickier question. If your child feels comfortable in the water, or if you have a pool, sooner is probably better, but by age four, the AAP recommends that all children take formal swimming lessons. Experts warn, though, that even if your child excels at swimming, it's important to still monitor their time in the water.

A drowning child will scream, thrash around and draw attention to themselves

This is perhaps the most common, and scariest, myth. Movies always portray a drowning character thrashing and splashing, but in reality, young children don't have the ability to keep their head above water. And especially at a busy pool or beach, it may be tricky to hear someone struggling in the water.

We're never around big bodies of water, so my kids aren't at risk

As scary as it may seem, you don't need a lot of water to drown. Bathtubs, shallow ponds, large buckets and even toilet bowls are proven to be risks for young children, so it's important to be present whenever your young child is around any sort of water.

Wearing water wings/floating devices is as good as wearing a life vest

These floatation devices are a great way for your child to work on his or her swimming skills, but they're not as fail-proof as a life jacket. For one thing, they can slide off your child's arms. And because they are only making the arms buoyant while leaving the lower body without support, your supervision is still needed.

There are so many people around -- someone will notice if there's problem

Here's a crazy stat: 90 percent of drowning deaths occur within 30 feet of safety, according to the Red Cross. A lot can happen in the 30 seconds it takes you to glance at your phone, so if you're feeling distracted, it's OK to ask a friend or fellow pool member to watch your child while you check an email, take a call or run to the restroom.

And even though water safety can be a scary thing to think about, your best line of defense is to keep a close eye on your children and give them the tools they need to be safe in the water. And remember, as we learned in "Finding Nemo"...