Top tips for water safety

Drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death for children ages of 1-4
Briggs Park Pool, located at 350 Knapp Street NE.

Summers in Michigan can be beautiful, fun filled, and for many families this includes lots of time in or near the water.  Whether it be a backyard pool, a community center, or any of our gorgeous lakes and beaches, water safety should always be a top priority for parents and caregivers. Drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death for children between the ages of 1-4 and the third leading cause of death for all children under the age of 19.  No matter how comfortable or confident children of all ages seem in the water, steps to prevent tragedy should always be taken. With some simple tips, parents and caregivers can be best prepared to keep children safe.

What are the top tips for water safety?

  1. Watch children when they are in the water. Younger children and weak swimmers should always be within arm’s reach of an adult and older more confident swimmers should always remain in pairs and never swim alone.
  2. Assign a “water watcher.”  When there are many people present, it is easy to assume that someone else is supervising swimmers.  A designated adult should always be chosen to keep an eye on all kids in the water.  Switch out the “water watcher” every 15-20 minutes to keep eyes fresh and focused.
  3. Teach children how to swim.  Enroll children in swim lessons that are appropriate for age, development and how often they are in or near water.
  4. Children should learn and know five important water survival skills. These include: stepping or jumping into the water over their head and return to the surface, turning around in water to orient to safety, float and/or tread water, combine breathing with forward movement in the water and exiting the water.
  5. Children should know that swimming in open water is much different than swimming in a pool. Open water brings additional challenges such as limited visibility, depth, currents and undertow.

What should my children wear?
When swimming in open water or boating, children should always wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket.  Young children or weak swimmers should keep a life jacket on any time they are near water.  Brightly colored swimwear such as neon or fluorescent colors can also help keep children visible while in the water.  Avoid blues, black, grey, white or any other color that can blend well in the water.

Is there anything else I can do to be prepared?
Basic water rescue skill and CPR is valuable lifesaving information that anybody can benefit from, especially parents and caregivers of young children.

Kelly Miller is an injury prevention coordinator at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.



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