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Water Safety Isn’t Seasonal: 6 Tips for Parents
Dec 2, 2019

Topic: Water Safety 

I know what you are thinking… Why on earth is she writing about water safety in December?

Well, the truth is, water safety shouldn’t be seasonal.

For me, water safety is a year-round passion. Partly because of my position at Houston Swim Club Swim School, but mostly because I am a mom of 4! Although they are older now, it wasn’t too long ago that I had 4 kiddos all under the age of 7.  

I had been around water my whole life and lived near a lake growing up, but with the added responsibility of being a mom (plus having a pool in the backyard), water safety took on a whole new meaning to me. One of the first things that I did was to make sure that each child could “swim” well enough to save themselves by the summer of their first birthday. It was one layer of protection we had.

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Most people know of the basic water safety rules such as: taking swim lessons, wearing a lifejacket, learning CPR, not running around the pool, practicing the buddy system (never swimming alone), and always having a designated water watcher.

However, I have a few additional water safety tips and tricks that I’ve learned along the way that might be beneficial to your family as well…

Meeting Time!

As soon as we arrived at our destination, and before the fun could begin, our family would have a meeting. We would discuss the rules and expectations for the day. We would have a central meeting place and a set time to return. Another helpful tool that I still use to this day, is keeping a waterproof dive tablet in my pool bag. We would write notes to each other like what time we came back to the meeting place and where we were headed next. Communication is key.

Phone Numbers!

As soon as kiddos are old enough, teach them your cell phone number. If your children are younger or cannot remember, you can make bracelets out of beads or have some rubber ones made with your phone number on it.

How Tall Are You? 

Educate your kids on their height in comparison to the depth of water. If you are swimming at a pool, water depth signs are posted on the sides of the pool. For instance, if they are about 4’ tall and see a sign indicating that the water level is 3.5’, they need to be cautious because the water still might be too high to where it covers their nose/mouth. But, if the water level is 3’ they should be able to stand with no problem.  

Show & Tell!

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Talk about and/or show your kids whom to go to (Lifeguards) or where to go (Customer Service) if they find themselves in need of help and are not near mom or dad.

Alyssa, our third born, has always been fiercely independent, so she needed to know where to go if she was ever separated from us. On one particular occasion when she was about 3 years old, we were enjoying a hot summer day at the water park. I was in the children’s area of the park - you know the area that has about 8 different colored slides. She asked if she could go down the yellow slide. “Of course,” I replied. “I will wait for you right here at the bottom.”

After several minutes passed, there was still no sign of Alyssa. I began to panic. As I frantically searched for her around the play area for what seemed like forever, I heard a voice say, “Ma’am, is this your child?” I turned around to see a water park employee holding Alyssa’s hand.

As I sobbed and held her tight, the park employee proceeded to tell me that Alyssa came up to the information center, told them her name and said, “I lost my mommy!” When I asked Alyssa what happened she said, “I went down the pink slide and you were not there, so I went for help!” I was so grateful that she followed the directions I had given about finding help. Needless to say, we had a long conversation about several things, including colors.  

Fight to be Free!

Unfortunately, when faced with a water-related emergency, sometimes people react by grabbing onto someone else nearby in an attempt to save themselves. Teach your kiddos the skills needed to free themselves from someone (child or adult) in the event this situation presents itself.

I would love to take full credit for teaching my kids how to get out of these tough situations, but natural reflexes and some healthy sibling rivalry did the work for me. Remember, when I said we had four young kids all around the same age AND we had a pool in the backyard?! My kids would pretend they were superheroes and loved to play fight and wrestle in the pool daily.

What they viewed as play, subconsciously allowed them to practice getting out of holds all while having fun. In preparation for going under the water, the kids would take a big breath. As they went under, they would tuck in a ball and dive head down, all the while kicking their feet and flailing their arms trying to escape the hold. Once free, they would swim away in victory.

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If they had been in a real emergency situation, they knew that once they were free, they were to call for help first. Then they could put the “Throw, don’t go!” rule into action and attempt to save the person by throwing something like a pool noodle, life ring, or extending a pole.

These skills came in handy when my youngest, Dalton, was playing in the backyard. I was on the other side of the yard pulling up weeds in the garden. He was under 2 years old and was enjoying pushing himself around in his Fisher Price car. He was not looking where he was going and drove himself and the car right into the pool! The car was slowly sinking, but he managed to escape by kicking his feet and flailing his arms until he knocked the door open and swam out. It was a similar situation to being pulled down during play time, so he knew what he needed to do to fight and move to get free. Needless to say, we had a long conversation about several things, including looking ahead while driving.

What Does Drowning Look Like?

If your kids are old enough, talk with them about what drowning looks like, and doesn’t look like. Teach them (and yourself) what to look for. The signs of drowning are not loud and drawn out like we see in the movies. They are quick and silent. A drowning victim can easily go unnoticed, which is why having a water watcher or lifeguard present is so important.

Working at HSC has opened my eyes and my heart to the importance of educating all parents and students about water safety.

I love working in a family-friendly environment where I work hand-in-hand with children and adults to ensure their happiness and safety while in and around the water. Watching them acquire lifesaving swim skills along the way is the icing on the cake.

I hope you can implement these water safety tips and tricks with your children. Teaching them how to be safe in and around any body of water is crucial, whether it’s Spring, Summer, Fall or Winter. The holiday season may be upon us, but that doesn’t make the pool in your backyard or your neighbor’s backyard any less dangerous.

Understanding the importance of water safety and learning how to swim will help your children to develop a love and respect for the water, and most importantly, may help save a life one day.

Water safety isn’t seasonal! It can be taught to anyone, at any age, at any time!

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Written by Sharon May, Site Director of Houston Swim Club Cypress


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