May is drowning prevention month and along with what adults need to know about water safety, it’s also a great idea to talk to your kids about water safety. Children ages 4 and up can really take part in understanding what it means to be safe around the pool and how to help in case of an accident or potentially life-threatening situation. Here are ten very easy and helpful rules that you can talk about with your children to make sure they understand what to do if faced with a crisis:
- Keep a phone by the pool and teach your children how to dial 9-1-1. Practice with them a few times and explain that this is ONLY for emergencies not because your little brother is being mean to you. Tell them what those emergencies would be for example.
- Tell your children if one of their friends appears in distress and needs help DO NOT under any circumstances jump in to get them. You’d be surprised how many children I’ve asked that question to and they all say, they’d jump in to help. Instead, tell your child to scream as loud as possible for help, to run quickly and try and get a parent or adult and to call 9-1-1.
- Tell your children not to stand on the side, lean over and extend their hand to a person in distress in the pool. This is another detail that children need to know. The other person will pull them right in. A child over the age of 6 CAN lie on the side extending only to their chest level and reach with an arm. Anything further and the person in distress will still pull them in.
- By age 10 a child can actually learn CPR and retain enough to assist in an emergency. While I would leave that up to the parents to decide if they think their child is old enough if you have several children and the oldest is 10 or above, I highly recommend that the oldest does learn CPR.
- Children under the age of 12 should still be supervised by an adult. While the adult may not need to keep an eagle eye on the situation, you should still be within earshot and be able to quickly eyeball the pool and do a headcount at any given moment. And of course, if you are the parent hosting other children aside from your own, do not leave the pool at all if you aren’t sure of the other child’s skill level.
- Tell your children that if they are at someone else’s house and that family suggests a swim might be fun, you MUST call your parent first and make sure its okay. In fact, I highly recommend that before you even drop your child off you find out if they have a pool and if they might be going swimming and what the supervision is. Some parents are more relaxed than you might be comfortable with.
- Lastly, children from a very young age are taught not to run around a pool deck, not to pull someone else underwater, not to carry a child their age or size around in the pool, not to scream for help when they don’t actually need it but often they forget these rules and more importantly they forget WHY. It never hurts to go over these rules at the start of summer and make sure they understand why it’s important.
Children love to be included in ‘very important things’ and giving them some responsibility for their own safety is a great way to help keep them safe this summer!