As a parent, you know it’s an exciting experience to have your children enjoy the water at the beach, river, lake or pool. At 24/7 Pediatric Care Centers, we often receive questions on the best way to introduce infants and children to the water. We are happy to advise our patients and parents, especially given the wealth of water recreation resources we have here in Northeast Florida.
Here’s one sobering fact, though. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drownings are the leading cause of injury death for young children ages one to four, and three children die every day as a result of drowning.
We believe that our parents, by taking simple precautions and learning basic skills, can prevent water accidents and provide wonderful, safe, water-based experiences for their children.
Tips for Parents
- Always closely supervise your children when in or around water. Be sure a lifeguard or other attentive adults are present when your children attend a swimming event.
- Teach kids over one year to swim or enroll them in a swimming program, but understand that swimming lessons are not drown-proofing. Kids still need close adult supervision whenever they are around water.
- Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) through certified classes.
- Make sure your home pool has a four-sided fence around it.
- When boating or swimming, always ensure your child wears a U.S. Coast Guard-approved swim jacket.
At the Beach
- Always ensure your child wears an approved swim jacket. Children under five should have a well fitting jacket with a flotation collar. Swim jackets should be worn whenever kids are around water, even shallow ponds and water elements. Inflatable toys, “swimmies,” and water mattresses are not suitable substitutes for a life jacket.
- Guard against rip current accidents. Have your child avoid swimming around jetties or piers. Check for water conditions and warning flags; swim only in the presence of lifeguards. Teach your child that if caught in a rip current to stay calm and swim parallel to the beach until clear of the current, then turn toward the beach. Parents can wave or shout to signal lifeguards, who can throw flotation devices or physically retrieve the child.
Advice for Older Children
- Avoid horseplay around the water.
- Do not dive into water headfirst without knowing that it is of adequate depth.
- Do not swim in areas where there are boats and/or fishermen.
- Expect river or lake water to be choppier, full of currents and swifter running than pools. Stay closer to shore and well within your swimming capabilities.
- Leave the water in the presence of thunderstorms or lightning.
Most of all, have fun!