Eight Water Safety Tips for Kids

FEBRUARY 22, 2013 ATLANTA Lifeguard Emma Sistrunk keeps an eye on the pool as MLK Jr Middle School students participate in a swimming lesson. In partnership with the Atlanta Public Schools System, City of Atlanta officials announced the relocation and re-opening of the Martin Luther King, Jr. pool, now located at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School, Friday, February 23, 2013. As part of the collaboration with King Middle School, the Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs will offer swimming lessons to students during school hours. In November 2012, the Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs closed the pool and fitness center of the Martin Luther King Jr. Natatorium indefinitely due to safety and security issues identified in a building assessment conducted by an engineering firm.. KENT D. JOHNSON / kdjohnson@ajc.com

FILE ART ATLANTA Lifeguard Emma Sistrunk keeps an eye on the pool as MLK Jr Middle School students participate in a swimming lesson. KENT D. JOHNSON / kdjohnson@ajc.com

Red and white-checkered table clothes, the sound of burgers sizzling, vibrantly colored swimsuits and the anticipation of finally submerging yourself in a large body of water. Memorial Day is the unofficial start of the summer. It’s the day when public pools, beaches and other water-based activities begin. This is also a good time to look at ways to create safe swimming environments.

Drowning is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. On average, 3,533 people die as a result of drowning each year, and most of those deaths are children under the age of four who drown in backyard swimming pools.

There are several standard water safety precautions recommended to parents including: keeping children under constant supervision, enrolling children in swimming lessons, knowing CPR, having pool fences and barriers installed. In addition to these vital steps, the US Swim School Association (USSSA), the leading swim school organization in the country has created a list of tips parents can use to build extra layers of protection for their children around water.

1. Create a verbal cue for your toddler or child that must be given by you before he or she can enter the pool.
2. Never allow your baby/toddler in the pool without a swim diaper.
3. Create a process the child must go through before entering a pool such as putting on a swim diaper, a swimsuit and applying sunscreen.
4. Never use floatation devices or water wings when swimming or when teaching kids to swim.
Children should learn to swim without goggles.  Teach your children to open their eyes under water; if they fall in they can find the side of the pool or a step and get out safely.
5. For very young children practice having them put their entire face under water in the bathtub and blow bubbles to build their comfort with water.
6. Create a water safety plan for your family and have water emergency drills with your kids covering how to recognize the signs of someone struggling in water and what to do in this type of emergency.
7. Make sure your guests and kids’ friends know your pool rules before they go outside and get in the pool.
Start swim lessons at 6 months of age and continue them year-round at a US Swim School member location.
8. Always make sure your children wear life jackets on boats, personal watercraft and in open bodies of water.
To find a USSSA affiliated swim school near you, or for details on becoming a member of the nation’s leading swim school organization visit: http://www.usswimschools.org.

About US Swim School Association

US Swim School Association (USSSA) began in 1988 to fill a gap in the swim school industry. USSSA has become the largest and preeminent swim school association in the country with over 400 members providing swim and water safety instruction to over 500,000 students each year. Swim schools receive invaluable benefits as USSSA members, receiving the latest training in water safety, swim instruction methods and tools, invitations to annual conferences, and many other benefits that help establish and build each individual business. USSSA has partnered with Safer 3 Water Safety Foundation for its official water safety program. Through USSSA, parents and students are provided with a reliable and trustworthy resource when searching for a swim school and can rest assured they have chosen a top school when they choose a USSSA affiliated location. For more information, visit http://www.usswimschools.org.

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