For kids and summertime, nothing spells relief from the hot sun
like a dip in the swimming pool. It's also a great deal of fun ...
and that's what kids want, after all.
And by practicing a few safety precautions, there's no need for
this pleasant, relaxing and cooling summer activity to turn to
tragedy. Common sense - and swimming lessons - are the keys.
"Anyone is at risk for drowning when they become careless or go
in the water unprepared," says Dr. W. Scott Colliton, a
pediatrician at Children's Mercy Kansas City. "It's
important that parents take the time to go over a few swimming
safety rules with their children before heading for the pool or
Dr. Laura Fitzmaurice, chief of Emergency Medicine at Children's
Mercy, says it only takes a couple inches of water and just a few
minutes for children to drown.
"That's why young children need constant supervision when they
are near any kind of water," she says.
At Children's Mercy, more than 20 children a year are seen for
near drownings. Some of those who recover suffer permanent damage.
The following tips are offered for water safety:
- Sign up your child for swimming lessons from a certified
teacher. Check with the Red Cross, YMCA or local park and
recreation departments. These courses can give children basic
swimming skills and teach them what to do in case of an
- Teach children to swim with a buddy, never alone. Buddies look
out for each other and know what to do when their buddy is in
trouble in the water.
- Teach your children to swim only in places where someone,
usually a lifeguard, is watching.
- Beware of backyard pools, hot tubs or Jacuzzis in the
neighborhood, especially those not fenced. Your child could wander
off and accidentally fall in.
- Never let older children swim in unsupervised areas like
quarries, canals or ponds. Older children are at risk of drowning
when they overestimate their ability or underestimate how deep
- Read the rules posted at beaches and pools. If your child is
not sure about a rule, ask a lifeguard.
- Anytime there is lightning in the sky, keep your children away
from the water. Water is one of the best conductors of electricity.
Children in the pool when lightning strikes will be
- Inner tubes and floats are great water toys, but they should
not be used for children who can't swim without their assistance.
Don't count on these floats to keep your child's head above
By teaching your children these simple rules of swimming safety,
your whole family can enjoy safe and fun times at the pool or beach