Summer is almost here and we’re ready to start dusting off our sprinklers and blowing up some floaties! As the weather starts to warm up and we get closer to slipping on our swimsuits, Dallas Moms Blog and Emler Swim School bring you a new post each week focusing on water fun & safety. Join us as we Splash into Summer!
In high school and college, I spent every summer at the pool as a lifeguard and a swim instructor. While the job was a great way to get paid to work on my tan and flirt with my fellow lifeguards, I never once forgot the importance of my job — to follow water safety rules and keep people alive.
Ultimately, those summers have made me “no fun” to be around water with my family and friends. I am always on edge because I am hyper aware of the inherent dangers; this only amplified once I had my own children. Despite my extreme diligence around water, two years ago I still found myself looking at my oldest daughter (who couldn’t swim at the time) two feet under the water in a pool we were all in. And if I hadn’t grabbed her when I did, there surely would have been complications.
I took my eyes off her for ONE second, literally. Normally I have my hand on her at all times while in the water, but I had taken it off her to grab a toy for her and that is when her tiny hand slipped off the ledge (one of our rules: she must always hold the ledge) and she fell under. I could have easily gotten distracted by someone talking to me, or any other distraction, and she would have been under the water for much longer than the five seconds it took for me to grab her.
Water is supposed to be fun. I have very fond memories of spending time at the pool, the beach, and lake splashing around and playing games. My own paranoia is due to me being witness to the dangers of water, but I try my absolute hardest to make sure my kids have a healthy respect for bodies of water and stay safe while having fun. Below are some of our personal rules my kids know they must follow:
1. Until my girls are deemed a “strong swimmer” (aka they can swim an entire lap of the pool without tiring), they must either have an adult with them in the pool at all times or wear a lifejacket. They aren’t allowed to wade in shallow water that leads to deeper water unless someone is with them.
“Participation in formal swimming lessons was associated with an 88% reduction in the risk of drowning in 1 to 4 year-old children.” Institute of Child Health and Human Dev
2. Noodles, boogie boards, donut tubes, and arm bands are NOT the same as lifejackets. We allow our daughters to use these, but we must be physically present with them. I saw far too many kids jumping into a pool and their armbands pop off when they hit the water from the pressure.
3. When kids are under our watch, no alcohol can be consumed. Believe me, an ice cold margarita while hanging out with my friends and their kids at the pool sounds like so much fun, but I know that alcohol can slow me down just the slightest bit–and when it comes to water, you don’t have the extra time to react.
4. My oldest daughter is allowed to watch her younger sister when they play outside in our backyard (we do not have a pool). She loves to “babysit” and be “responsible” for her sister. That said, we will never leave her responsible for her sister at a pool. Adults are always responsible for the children when it comes to water safety.
5. At the beach and lake, we only go as deep as our daughter’s hips. Drop-offs can occur at any point and combined with a forceful wave (and water you can’t typically see through) it is far too easy for an accident to occur.
I know it sounds like I am a real drag when it comes to swimming, but water accidents happen far too often–107 children were lost in 2016 to drowning and this year has already seen ten deaths of children and swimming season hasn’t even started yet! I’m ok with being “too strict” at the pool if it means keeping my children safe so I can continue to be too strict. We have a lot of fun at the pool as a family but just like I never forgot my purpose as a lifeguard, as a parent-my job is to always teach my children water safety.
We have a lot of fun at the pool as a family, but just like I never forgot my purpose as a lifeguard, as a parent my job is to always teach my children water safety.
For more information on Water Safety, including videos, posts and other water safety tips for parents, Emler Swim School’s page on Water Safety!
If you’re looking for additional ways to keep children safe in the water this summer, Emler Swim School provides a variety of classes for children starting as young as 2 months and they encourage you to reach out and find the right class for your family. To learn more about Emler Swim School in Dallas/Fort Worth, make sure to visit their website or Facebook page.