Make sure your kids learn to swim

| July 7, 2011

By Joella Baker (newsletter 7/8/11)

One thing all kids should learn is how to swim.

I can’t remember not being able to swim. From the time I was barn, we had a swimming pool and in the summer, I lived in the water. I loved racing my sisters, seeing how long I could hold my breath and throwing things in the deep end the pool and diving to get them. I loved to swim and I still do.
I can’t thank my parents enough for making sure from a young age that I knew how to swim and learned to love the water. Unfortunately, for many people this isn’t the case. Most people don’t grow up with full access to a pool. They don’t learn to swim and comfort in the water doesn’t exist. You can change that now for you and for your children.

May of 2010, The American Academy of Pediatrics recently issued new guidelines on drowning prevention and water safety and stated that children between the ages of 1 and 4 should take swim lessons. Previously it was thought children were too young at these ages to take lessons, but now the Academy realizes how important water safety is. Previously it was thought this age group wasn’t developmentally ready for lessons, but now they believe they are and that lessons can prevent drowning in some cases.

“In light of new research that has revealed that swim instruction for children 1 to 4 years of age may decrease drowning, it is reasonable for the AAP to relax its policy regarding the age at which children should start learning water-survival skills,” states the AAP report.

Of course, the new guidelines do not extend to all children under 4. The AAP still does not recommend swimming lessons before age 1, and says children with motor or cognitive disabilities may not be not be ready for swimming lessons until a later age.

According to the AAP report, drowning is the second-leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 19. New data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commissions finds children between the ages of 1 and 2 represent 47 percent of submersion injuries and 53 percent of fatalities for children younger than 15. In light of those statistics, the CPSC launched Poolsafety.gov as an educational resource for parents, providing pool safety videos and links to resources on drowning prevention.

“Children need to learn to swim,” say the authors of the Pediatrics report. But they also warn parents not to equate swimming lessons with “drown proofing.” They recommend a multilayered safety approach because, as they note, even children with advanced swimming skills can still drown. Beside swimming lessons, here are three additional things parents can do:
• Learn CPR
• Put a fence around your pool
• Purchase the proper safety gear, this includes proper floating devices for children.

For more Information on swimming safety and swim lessons, talk to Beth Newell, Aquatics Director at the YMCA.

**Information from Sabriya Rice CNN Medical Producer

Category: Archive, Get Fit Kids

Comments are closed.