Summer is here, and that means Texan families will be spending their days around swimming pools and lakes in hopes of beating the heat. Swimming is an excellent form of exercise for kids and a great way to build memories, but it's important to remember that bodies of water pose a serious threat to young swimmers.
Already, reports have indicated that dozens of children have drowned in Texas this year due to water-related accidents. In fact, the CDC states that the leading cause of injury-related deaths in children ages one to four is drowning.
Whether your children are playing in your backyard pool or exploring near a lakeside, there are some important steps to take to prevent life-threatening accidents. Here are the top five tips experts have shared when it comes to water safety.
1. Start swim lessons early. According to most swimming instructors, the sooner you enroll your young child in lessons, the better. Many classes will teach babies as young as six-months-old. Even if your child is too young to truly start swimming on their own, they can learn to be comfortable in the water and perform basic moves. These skills could save their life in the event of an emergency. By the time your child is a toddler, it's essential that they be able to swim comfortably, hold their breath, and move around the water on their own.
Looking for access to water safety courses for your kids? Check out opportunities with your local YMCA.
2. Secure your swimming pool with barriers when it's not in use. One of the best ways to avoid pool-related disasters is to invest in safety products. Consider putting a temporary fence up around the water when you're not using it, or even look into wireless gate alarms that alert you when someone goes into the pool area when they shouldn't. An extremely high percentage of childhood drownings occur in the pools of private residences, so it's important not to underestimate the dangers your own backyard can pose.
3. Learn CPR. In the event of a water-related accident, you want to be as prepared as possible. Not sure how to learn CPR? Check out these video demonstrations or look into the CPR classes offered by the Red Cross.
4. Use life vests and other floats when appropriate. Ask any Coast Guard member or other water safety expert: life jackets do save lives. In the Coast Guard's 2014 reports, 84 percent of the fatal boating accident victims that drowned were not wearing a life vest. When you're around open water or on a boat, err on the side of caution and keep little ones strapped in a properly-sized life jacket. Most states actually require that children under the age of 13 wear one.
5. Make sure that at least one adult is on supervising duty. Although accidents can happen even when adults are watching, parents should always ensure that there is someone on child duty when around a pool. Even if you are just around the body of water and not actually swimming in it, all babies, toddlers, and young children should be watched carefully to decrease the risk of an accident.