Tag Archives: swimming

Tag, you’re it! Making your pool safer…

27 Jan

Mary Ann Downing of Pool Safety Solutions posted a great technique for keeping kids safe at backyard pools. Check out http://www.ehow.com/how_5884519_use-safer-backyard-pool-event.html?shared=true. Basically, each responsible adult takes the ‘tag’ and spends 10 minutes watching all the kids near and in the pool. When the 10 minutes is up they ‘tag’ another adult who then spends 10 minutes. What I love about this is that it deals with a bunch of safety problems in one easy step. First, kids need constant supervision when they are in the pool and it’s virtually impossible for a parent to keep an eye on one child, much less 2, 3 or more for the length of an afternoon pool party. Second, am I the only parent who craves adult conversation? This way I’d get time to have a good catch-up with friends while knowing my kids are safe, it’s kind of like being a designated driver but I can still join the party except for short stints when I’m ‘it’. Third, ever noticed how lifeguards rotate out of their stations after a fairly short period of time? Humans can’t focus on anything effectively for very long – we need to walk around, look at something different – even the most diligent parent would be hard-pressed to stare diligently at the pool for a whole afternoon while you hear laughter, juicy stories, smell the BBQ, or just need to grab a cold drink or more sunscreen. Next time you’re at the pool with a friend, remember, Tag, you’re it!



At what age should you start your kids in swimming lessons?

11 Dec

When do most parents sign their kids up for swimming lesson? I don’t have any stats, but I’m guessing it’s school-age, the rites of summer when parents are thinking about heading for the pool and the beach. Problem is, drowning is the 2nd leading cause of death in ALL children ages 0-14, not just school age. The best time to start children swimming is as infants or young toddlers and winter is a great time to head for an indoor pool and burn off some energy. Some parents are afraid that it will make their kids too confident in the water, but I know for mine I wanted them to understand clearly the cause-and-effect of jumping in (supervised, of course) – you jump, you sink. Before you all start panicking, the jumping was part of games designed to teach water safety, build confidence in the water, and help them develop a healthy respect for the water – and it worked. For me it was instinct, survival (we had a pool) and watching my aunt teach thousands of toddlers in LA that got me into the pool with my kids from 6 months onwards. Now, for the first time, a research group led by Dr. Ruth A. Brenner shows that “from our calculations, we are confident that swimming lessons do not increase drowning risk in this age group and likely have a protective effect.” For more information, check out the following blog.


Dunking – innocent fun or teasing turned dangerous?

2 Dec

I vividly remember my younger (stronger) brother dunking me in a lake when I was about 9 years old. That feeling of terror as I realized I couldn’t get away from him. My lungs feeling as if they were about to explode from holding my breath while I struggled. I did manage to get away without incident and still love the water though I have a terror of being dunked even at my advanced age. My brother couldn’t understand why I was so mad at what he saw as harmless teasing. Dunking someone seems as much a part of summer ritual as cannonballing, water gun fights and betting each other they can’t go off the high dive, but when does it become life-threatening? Obviously dunking a child can quickly turn dangerous if the child is held under too long and the child begins to drown, but a child can also dry drown 1-24 hours after they’ve ingested too much water – by dunking, getting knocked under by a wave or just having too much fun in a water fight to realize they’ve swallowed more than they’ve splashed. The link below gives the symptoms of possible dry drowning, which can affect children with asthma or other lung problems more easily. As parents we’d step in if we saw our child bicycling without a helmet- maybe dunking is another one of those ‘innocent’ childhood activities where the danger outweighs the fun.



How can children’s safety transcend political and cultural barriers?

23 Nov

I just read an article that linked high, increasing childhood drowning rates in New Zealand to schools closing their pools. http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/drownings-cause-serious-concern-3175756#. The principal of one school states, ‘”I think that it’s a community responsibility. Yes, they (kids) are here during the day and there’s parents, but in the interest of the safety of our children now and in the future, I think it’s a community responsibility.” I’m American but I’ve also lived in the UK and in France and have been around the world. Every country has a different level of involvement in people’s lives and within each country people have different expectations of how much the government should be involved. Aside from the obvious emotional attachment we have to our children, children are a future economic resource and drowning is an economic cost. One estimate places the total lifetime annual cost of children drowning at $6.8 billion, in the U.S. alone. The total cost of a single near-drowning that results in brain injury – $4.5 million. I’ve been spending a lot of time lately collecting information on drowning prevention and water safety programs, and there are a lot of outstanding organizations working on the problem, but drowning is still the second leading cause of death for children in virtually every developed country, and a leading cause of death in developing countries. Why is this? Why isn’t protecting children an unquestioned global priority? What programs are accepted and embraced in your country or community? Could they translate to other countries? How can we all work together to leverage our resources and move that frightening ‘second leading cause of death’ statistic permanently out of second place?


Keep swimming, keep swimming, keep swimming

18 Nov

I’ll bet all you parents recognize that line from Finding Nemo, but even better, I’ll bet all your kids would recognize the line ‘keep swimming’ as well. Any time you can tie a character or a repetitive statement to a skill it becomes a game for your child instead of the white noise of instructions usually issuing from your mouth, like ‘wash your hands….cover your mouth….put the seat down….don’t tease’. My daughter came home from kindergarten today and instructed me the correct way to make the number 9 – a circle and a line, that makes a nine. If your child is struggling with learning to swim and they enjoyed Nemo, maybe they would relate to Nemo’s Dad and Dora and how they never gave up trying to find Nemo. Make it a game while you hold them in the pool and have them kick and paddle and keep swimming, keep swimming, keep swimming. Even better, they know you are there for them as long as it takes for them to learn because just like Nemo’s dad, you’d never give up on your child.


Could you have saved Emily?

9 Nov

At a popular Australian pool last week, Matthew Kennedy, an 8-year old boy with autism, a severe speech impediment and learning difficulties, recognized that Emily, a 3-year old girl, was in distress. He jumped in, grabbed her arms, lifted her head above the water and pulled her out of the pool. Emily was unconscious and foaming at the mouth. Matthew’s father and the lifeguard began CPR, Emily began to breathe again and she was taken to the emergency room, still alive.

There are two heroes in this story – the first is clearly Matthew, whose brave and selfless actions saved a younger child. The second is Matthew’s father, John Kennedy. Mr. Kennedy had been a lifeguard for 25 years. One month earlier he began teaching his children what to do in an emergency, as he himself knew water safety and CPR.

Teach water safety, swimming and CPR. Emily would thank you.


Teaching swimming = healthy kids + safe kids

28 Oct

Remember the first time you gave your new baby a bath?  That rather concerned look on their face when you lowered them carefully into the water and then that flicker of recognition, ‘oh yes, water, I floated in my warm and comforting cocoon for the previous 9 months before you ejected me in a rather forceful manner’.  I remember that my two quickly came to love bath time – the amazing splash of water that they were able to create just by moving their hands and feet, such power!  Such fun!  Babies love the water, so it’s the best time to start them swimming.

A study released this week* proved that participation in formal swimming lessons cuts the risk of drowning for children ages 1-4 by 88%.  Babies love the water and starting your kids in swimming lessons as infants will make them safer in the water, at a minimum it may keep them from panicking and buy you a precious 2 minutes that is the difference between life and a drowning death.  Swimming is amazing exercise as well, so kiss those worries of childhood obesity goodbye.  And the serious bonus for parents?  Try moving through the water with your child – resistance exercise!

* A research group at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development released the study in the Archives of Pediatric Adolescent Medicine, March 2009.  http://archpedi.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/163/3/203