By Mary Reilly-‐Magee
It’s that time of the year again – when warm, sunny days bring families together at pools, lakes, beaches, and more. As exciting and memorable a baby’s experience around water with family and friends may be, it’s important to identify, understand and mitigate the risks associated with each type of water. Drowning is preventable and there are many ways that you can keep your family safer when in and around water.
- Learn to Swim. Getting babies in the water early and frequently both provides them with the exposure they need to be safer, and facilitates their emotional and physical development. Swim lessons also strengthen their self-confidence and help build independence. How cool is that? Your baby will begin to develop skills that will be helpful throughout his entire life!
- Fence It In. Install a fence around your pool! The fence should be at least 4 feet tall, it should not have gaps where babies can squeeze or crawl through, and it should include self-locking latches to prevent easy opening.
- Active Supervision. For babies who can’t sit up, a swim ring may provide an extra hand; however, don’t let this give you a false sense of security. Babies can tip over and get trapped under the flotation device, so do not use them as a substitute for keeping your eye and/or hand on your baby. Have dedicated, assigned supervision at all times.
- Safer Response. Learn CPR, First Aid, and rescue techniques. Build a Safety Toolkit including a first aid kit, a pair of scissors (to cut hair, clothing or a pool cover), and a flotation device. Be sure to always keep a charged mobile or portable phone near the water in case you need to call 9-1-1 for an emergency.
- Rollover Breathing. Rollover breathing is a skill that can save a child’s life. Introducing and emphasizing back floating early in your child’s aquatic education will help them gain the comfort and confidence to learn rollover breathing. This is a technique where the baby rolls on to his or her back for a breath, instead of popping up and taking the body to a vertical position – also known as the drowning position. When taught in a gentle, progressive way, back-floating babies can learn to live in and love the water.
- Consider Temperatures. Babies are most comfortable when pool temperatures are between 82°-86°F (28°-‐30°C). Do not plunge your baby into cold water as it may cause hypothermia; instead, allow your baby to slowly transition and adapt to the water.
- Stay Hydrated. The summer’s heat can dehydrate babies, especially when they’re active and sweating. Dizziness and nausea are some of the first signs of overheating and dehydration. Even when they are in the water, they still need to drink plenty as well!
Remember, drowning is quick and silent; so, whether you’re rushing to grab a charger from the kitchen or an extra towel from the car, a baby can drown quickly in just a few inches of water. To prevent accidents, make sure your family is educated and prepared for water fun all summer long! Take action now and enroll your baby in a swim lessons.