The threat of drowning continues even after summer ends. With the cooler weather and the holiday season right around the corner, it’s easy to forget that water safety is still important. But drownings don’t take a break just because the temperature dips. The risk of drowning doesn’t go away when kids return to school. In fact, drownings occur just as frequently in the fall and winter months during family gatherings and vacation trips as they do in the summer.
As the cooler months come around, ensure your child’s swimming skills are up to par. Just because summer is coming to an end doesn’t mean it’s time to forget about swim lessons. Year-round swim lessons are the key for your child to reinforce the skills they have learned. Year-round swim lessons allow kids to keep their water skills fresh and top of mind, allowing them to hone all their water competency knowledge throughout the year.
Swim Lessons Are an Essential Layer Of Protection Against Drowning
Swim lessons are an essential layer of protection needed to help prevent unintentional drowning incidents.
In 2009, Dr. Ruth Brenner and her colleagues at the National Institute of Child Health and Development published a study stating that swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning among children ages 1 to 4 by 88%. This statement is significant because this age group is at the highest risk of drowning in a swimming pool. The study found that swimming lessons can help children learn how to swim and be more comfortable in the water, reducing the risk of drowning.
This study has been cited multiple times in several articles and posts regarding drowning prevention and water safety. Please note that this research had a small sample size and the 95% confidence intervals regarding the protective effects were 3%-99%. It also stated that “swimming skills alone are insufficient to protect a child from drowning.”
Learning to swim is but one of the several layers of protection needed to reduce children’s drowning risk. Parents must know they cannot rely on just one layer of protection to keep kids safe. Nothing, not even swim lessons, can drown-proof a child. All layers must be implemented simultaneously to effectively reduce the risk of drowning incidents from taking place.
Kids are safer in water when they have multiple layers of protection in place. The layers include swimming lessons and aids such as life jackets, bubble covers, and pool fences. Kids need more than one layer of protection to be safe in pools and spas – including swimming lessons taught by a professional swim instructor.
Swimming Lessons & Water Competency
A national survey conducted for the Red Cross in 2020 revealed that people believe themselves to be better swimmers than they really are. The survey also found that of the 85 percent of Americans who said they could swim, only 56 percent could perform all five basic skills (also known as water competency) that might help keep them safe in the water.
According to the American Red Cross, there are three main components to water competency: water smarts, swimming skills, and helping others.
Water smarts involve knowing well what your limitations are in the water and what to do (or not do) to avoid putting yourself in a dangerous situation when in the water, like wearing a US coast guard approved life vest, understanding how weather conditions can impact water safety and how to call for help.
The following are the basic swimming skills needed to be safe in the water:
- Step or jump into the water over your head.
- Return to the surface and float or tread water for one minute.
- Turn around in a full circle and find an exit.
- Swim 25 yards to the exit.
- Exit from the water. If in a pool, be able to exit without using the ladder.
Helping others means you know what to do should an emergency occur, like knowing how to assist a drowning victim and learning CPR with rescue breaths.
Any swim program you choose for your child should cover the three components of water competency. They will give your child the tools they need if they accidentally fall into the water unsupervised.
When to Start Swim Lessons
Swim lessons aren’t just about teaching children how to be safe around water — they’re also teaching parents how to do the same.
In 2019, the American Academy of Pediatrics updated its water safety guidelines to recommend children start swimming lessons around age 1 to help reduce the risks of drowning. The more comfortable a child is in water, the fewer their chances of drowning; the earlier they’re comfortable, the better.
Parents must remember that learning to swim is but one of the layers of protection that need to be implemented to prevent drowning. Even though learning to swim allows children to be aware of drowning hazards, it does not make them immune to the perils of drowning. Indeed, nothing can drown-proof a child.
Finding the right swim programs for kids isn’t just about your child’s age or experience levels; it’s also about you being comfortable with the facility, instructors, and technique. Things that make a swim lesson program a good fit for you and your child will also vary by age. When choosing the program that best fits your child and your family, be sure to factor in your decision the emotional maturity of your child, their physical and developmental abilities and limitations, and their current comfort level when in the water.
Drowning is preventable when children learn proper water safety skills.
Drowning is a preventable tragedy that occurs far too often, especially in young children. But when kids learn the appropriate water safety skills, they can stay safe around pools, lakes, oceans, and anywhere there is water.
Swim lessons are an excellent way for children to learn about water safety. For starters, they’ll learn how to stay afloat and what they must do if they find themselves in a dangerous situation like accidentally falling into the water.
And while no one can completely prevent accidents, knowing the proper safety techniques can mean the difference between life and death. So make sure your child is enrolled in swim lessons all year long, regardless of the season – it could save their life.