Swimming is not just a recreational activity for the summer or an exercise that gets you into great shape—it’s also a valuable life skill that can potentially save your life. With National Learn to Swim Day just around the corner (May 18th), experts say that more than half of the U.S. population cannot swim.
Alison Osinski, a water safety expert and the current president at Aquatic Consulting Services, reports that only 35% of Americans know how to swim—and about two to seven percent are actually proficient swimmers.
Unintentional drowning is still a major concern for young children who lack swimming skills. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
“Every day, about ten people die from unintentional drowning. Of these, two are children aged 14 or younger.”
In light of this growing concern for improved swim safety, let’s dive into some ways you can protect your child against unintentional drowning.
Water Safety for Toddlers
Drowning is a silent killer in young children and it can happen in places where parents least expect it—a sink, a paint bucket, an outdoor fountain, or other small bodies of water in and around your home. Because toddlers have an increased risk of drowning, the CDC urges parents to actively supervise their children anytime a body of water is present—even if the water is only a couple of inches deep.
If you have a swimming pool or hot tub at home, there are several safety products you can purchase to safeguard your pool and protect against accidental drowning. Pool alarms, for instance, can be installed to alert someone in the house when a person or object falls into the water—and some can be paired with a child wristband that will sound an alarm when submerged in water. Other safety products for the pool include removable fences, safety nets, video cameras, and floatable buoy alarms.
Pool safety products work well to avert situations where a child may accidentally fall into the water, but swim lessons teach children how to survive in the water alone.
While the typical age for a child to start swim lessons is four years old, Infant Swimming Resource (ISR) offers a unique swim technique for children as young as six months old. Referred to as “survival swimming,” this unique technique teaches children to safely roll onto their backs, float at the surface, and remain above water until a person can help. Older children (1-6 years old) are taught to float as well as swim to safety.
Survival swimming by ISR has successfully administered more than 7,750,000 ISR Self-Rescue™ lessons and saved more than 800 lives from accidental drowning. Here is a short video to see how survival swimming works:
Water Safety Tips
For adults and children alike, the CDC recommends the following safety tips to stay safe in the water:
- Take swim lessons
- Wear a lifejacket when riding in a boat
- Never swim alone (use the “Buddy System”)
- Only swim in places where a lifeguard is on-duty
- Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
- Avoid drinking alcohol while swimming or supervising children in the water