4 Swim Safety Tips That Can Save Your Child’s Life
Today is the day we lost Emmy. 3 years ago today she drowned. 3 years ago tomorrow, she died. In ways, it feels like yesterday and in others a lifetime ago. However, the feeling of loss is exactly the same.
3 years later, I’m now sitting face to face with what took my daughter’s life and watching my boys learn to survive. The twins are only 3 days younger than Emmy was on this day and if they were to fall in, they have the skills to survive. And the hardest part for me to grasp is what it all comes down to is knowledge. Had I known then, what I know now, my daughter would still be alive.
Morgan Miller is just one of many parents who has tragically lost a child to drowning - and it’s her mission to make these preventable deaths less common.
Now that it’s the middle of summer, we’re relaxing by the pool and going on family vacations at the beach. We throw some sunscreen and floaties into our diaper bag and think we’re good to go. But have you taken the time to research water safety, to learn CPR, to ensure your child will be safe while they swim or if they accidentally fall into the water? We know, there’s so much to learn when it comes to parenting and thinking about the unimaginable can be difficult to wrap your head around.
To make this summer the best and safest yet, we’ve put together four swim safety tips that every parent should keep in the back of their head. They're life-saving.
Always be alert
It seems obvious to never take your eyes off of your baby or toddler when they're in the water, but if you have multiple kids getting distracted is easy. Simply put, if you’re even near water, turning your head for even 10 seconds is too long. Toddlers are fast! You may think they’re drying off right next to you, but they can be back in the pool or ocean in a second. If you’re at a party or on vacation with family you may make the mistake of thinking, “There are plenty of adults around so someone must be watching.” Every parent is human and needs breaks, but be vocal and take shifts around who has a direct line of eye contact and is within arm’s reach of your little one at all times.
Skip the floaties
This one might seem counterintuitive - wouldn’t you want your baby to stay afloat? Well, yes, but inflatable swim aids can actually give kids a false sense of security in the water and are therefore not recommended by the AAP. Instead, invest in getting your babies into swim lessons as soon as possible to get them comfortable floating and swimming on their own. And regardless of swimming abilities, you should consider having your child wear a life jacket when boating or around large bodies of water like lakes.
In addition to being more safe and secure than puddle jumpers, their bright color can help you see your child in the water. We love this graphic that has gone viral on Facebook this year from Aquatic Safety Connection.
It’s an incredible visual showing how swimsuits need to be more than cute and the color you choose to put on your babies really matters! Notice how anything blue completely blends into the water and how darker colors can look like a pile of leaves at the bottom of a pool. Neon colors like hot pink and bright orange are your best bet for safety!
Maintain a safe pool
If you have a pool in your backyard, there are a few safety features you should have in place. Even if you don’t have walking kiddos yet,, your pool should be safe to protect neighborhood kids and visitors as well. Ensure your backyard pool is surrounded by fencing at least 4 feet high and that the gate is childproof and always closed behind you.
Take a class
We’re not just talking about swim lessons here. Although we will take the chance to reiterate - enroll your little ones in swimming lessons as soon as possible so that their swimming skills are strong enough to save their life in the water. In addition to swim lessons, as a parent, you should learn CPR and basic water safety training. We hope that by taking the steps we’ve already outlined, you will never find yourself in the situation of a near-drowning incident. However, if you do, you need to be prepared to give your child CPR. Check out your local branch of the American Red Cross for classes!
It’s awareness of survival swim lessons, the false sense of security we give our children when we put them in puddle jumpers, it’s awareness of the relationship and beliefs we teach our children in thinking that water is a fun and safe place to be, awareness that drowning should have been my #1 concern in any situation since most drownings occur during non swim times and is THE #1 CAUSE OF DEATH for children under the age of 5.
…Had I known then what I know now, my daughter would be alive…
Let that sink in.
So today, and every day, make this a conversation. Share with parents and pediatricians what you now know because that conversation may just save a life.
Morgan Miller is a mama to seven, former pro volleyball player, and a safe swim advocate. Follow her journey on Instagram @morganebeck.