Parenting Win of the Week: Swim Safety

These tips will make trips to the pool and beach just as safe as they are fun!

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Photo by: RUSS ROHDE

RUSS ROHDE

Memorial Day is the unofficial start of pool season with many of them kicking off this upcoming weekend. May is also National Swim Safety Month. Swimming can be a ton of fun for kids and adults, but there’s also a safety component to keep in mind. We chatted with Robert McDonald, training program manager at Foss Swim School on what we should keep in mind to make swimming a safe experience for everyone this summer.

Not All Situations Are Created Equally

Taking your kids swimming doesn’t mean the same thing in every situation, so you need to keep that in mind. Assess the situation at hand. Does the pool have a lifeguard? How busy will it be? Are you at a public pool or a neighbor’s house? Is it a party or just a few people? No matter how well your kid can swim, these are important factors to consider. If you are swimming in an ocean or lake, you’ll want to make sure your kids are in properly fitted life jackets because you have to worry about weather and waves and other factors you can better control at a pool.

Have a Designated Swim Watcher

Ideally, you are watching your kids at the pool — but if you are at an event, you may want to assign a designated swim watcher. After all, we do know parents want to have fun, too. This person doesn’t have to be the same all day, but it’s important that they take their job seriously. (We are assuming the kids can swim without in-pool assistance here). The swim watcher needs to be sober and without distraction (put away those phones) to really keep an eye on the kids.

Is Your Kid Ready?

This is one of the most popular questions for anyone associated with a swim school and the answer is not that easy — and it’s also child dependent. As a general rule, preschool-age kids and younger need to be really watched closely. They haven’t yet developed that psychological part that has them feeling fear of what can happen if they are in the water. Older kids become psychologically more aware that water can be dangerous. In general, swimming lessons help kids set those expectations (like 3,2,1 wait before you jump in) and other tactics that make them safer in the water. If you are in a zero gravity pool versus one that starts at 3 feet, you may give your newer swimmers a bit more freedom.

Also, keep in mind that although noodles and water wings are helpful tools in the pool for kids to get confidence swimming, it is not a reason to check out.

Fatigue Is Real

Your kid may be an awesome swimmer, but after spending a full day at the pool, they are bound to get tired — we all do. Keep that in mind that as the day goes on, your kid may not have the same endurance they did at the beginning of the day. You’ll only know this by observing them, so make sure if they are losing steam, you get them out of the pool and away from a potentially unsafe situation.

Don’t Let Your Guard Down

It all comes down to being vigilant. You can have a good time at the pool too, but if you are in charge of a kid’s safety, you need to pay attention. We often get lax during family or social situations and unfortunately, these can be times when accidents happen the most.

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