Swimming With Your Little Ones

It’s been four years since the tragedy happened. It was supposed to be a fun-filled day under the sun when two kids, one boy (5 years old) and one girl (4 years old) drowned and expired in our subdivision swimming pool. They are siblings and the worst part is they are their parents’ only children.

Parents blamed that one guardian they entrusted to watch over the kids. They also blamed the management for not having lifeguards on duty. They were pointing fingers at each other, in denial of the fact that there’s no one else to blame but them and their negligence.

Drowning cases involving children aren’t uncommon, especially during the summer season when pool and beach trips are in full swing. If you are looking forward to a swimming getaway with your children, here are a few safety reminders you should keep in mind to avoid these tragic incidents

1. Never trust floaties

Floaties aren’t necessarily kid-friendly as they don’t always keep your little ones afloat. Most floaties, designed as “pool toys” and not life-saving devices, are flimsy and unstable. Aside from having the tendency to slip off easily and limit the child’s range of motion, floaties can also give kids a false sense of confidence in their swimming abilities.

There are three basic rules every parent should keep in mind. Firstly, you should not let your little kid float where he/she can’t swim. Secondly, floaties are never to be trusted. For little children and inexperienced swimmers, opt for a more secured U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket that’s appropriate for your child’s weight and chest size. Lastly, you should pay attention and be beyond arm’s reach of your kid using a flotation device.

2. Stop the breath-holding games

Who can stay underwater longer? This is a popular pool dare we’re all familiar with. However, it’s a very risky game for one reason – shallow-water blackouts.

The Centers for Disease Control issued a report associating underwater breathing restraints to fatal drowning incidents. When kids overexert themselves in holding their breaths, they can lose consciousness underwater and drown.

3. Beware of strong pool smell

In contrary to the common belief, that strong chlorine odor you smell isn’t actually chlorine and doesn’t actually mean the pool is a hundred percent disinfected. It’s a byproduct that builds up from the contact of sweat, urine, and fecal matter in the chlorinated water. If the pool is well-maintained, you’re unlikely to have that odor.

This nasty byproduct is also the reason why you develop burning, bloodshot eyes and irritated skin after stepping out of the pool. For some people, the irritants can trigger uncomfortable asthma attacks. Make sure to shower before and after jumping in.

4. Know the signs of rip currents

Rip currents are extremely strong currents of water that can be as high as 2,500 feet but are usually no wider than 30 feet. These powerful currents move along the sea surface and generally hit at the points of the shoreline where the sea is the deepest. Once you get caught in one, it’s nearly impossible to get out.

Rip currents are difficult to identify. Some of the general signs of rip currents include a channel of churning choppy water, change of color in the water beyond the surf zone, a line of seaweed, sea-foam, or debris moving steadily seaward, and a break in the incoming wave pattern as waves approach the shore.

5. Keep as close as possible to the lifeguards on duty

It’s a no-brainier to always swim where lifeguards can see you. Another reason to stay close is for you to be able to see the beach warning flags.

Each warning flag color signifies beach’s hazard level:

  • Green stands for Low Hazard (calm condition).
  • Yellow stands for Medium Hazard (moderate surf and/or currents).
  • Single Red stands for High Hazard (high surf and/or strong currents).
  • Double Red means the beach is closed to the public.
  • Lastly, you may also see a Purple flag, which stands for “presence of dangerous marine life” (jellyfish, stingrays, dangerous fishes) and can be raised with either the Red or Yellow flag.

6. Put your distractions away

Likely to drown in the virtual world? Your kid may drown too if you don’t put your phone down.

Make sure you give your 100% attention and alertness when your kid is in the water. Mobile phones are the biggest thief of time and attention. A lot of things can happen in one blink of an eye. Your kid, who you think is safe in the shallow kiddie pool, might hit his/her head, pass out, or transfer to the deep adult pool when not supervised.

7. Swim with your little one

Even accomplished swimmers are no match for deadly rip currents. So no matter how good your kid’s swimming skills are, never leave him or her alone in the water, especially if you’re in the ocean. Also, never ask a stranger to supervise the kid on your behalf.

Keep in touch and swim with your kid. Not only you can completely watch over your kid but you can even strengthen your bond when you swim with him/her rather than watch your youngster from a distance.

By Punit