When it comes to safety, teaching children to call for help in water emergencies is vital. Pool fences and alarms are valuable tools, but they are only part of the water safety puzzle. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for children aged 1 to 4 years.
The Importance of Water Safety
As the summer heat remains strong and families head to pools, lakes, or beaches, it’s crucial for parents to prioritize water safety. Fortunately, there are simple yet effective ways to prevent water emergencies and protect our little ones. One essential skill every child should learn is how to call for help in water emergencies.
Teach Them Early
The best time to start teaching children about water safety is as early as possible. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends introducing water safety concepts around the age of one year. While infants won’t fully grasp the concept, they can become familiar with the water environment and learn basic water safety habits alongside parents or caregivers.
Make it Fun with Games
Learning doesn’t have to be boring, and teaching water safety is no exception! Engage your children with games that promote water safety awareness. For instance, you can play “Simon Says” by incorporating water safety commands, such as “Simon says, touch your toes if you see someone struggling in the water.”
Obviously, this works best for kids outside the water. If they are in the water, change it to something like “Simon says, float on your back if you see someone drowning.”
This will not only make the learning process enjoyable but also reinforce the importance of being vigilant near water.
Introduce the “Reach or Throw, Don’t Go” Rule
Children should understand that they must never enter the water to rescue someone who is in distress. Instead, introduce the “Reach or Throw, Don’t Go” rule, which is advocated by the American Red Cross.
In short, this teaches them to use a long object, like a pool noodle, to reach out to the person in need or throw them a floatation device. Going into the water without proper training or equipment can put both the rescuer and the victim at risk.
Practice Makes Perfect
Repetition is essential for teaching children new skills, and water safety is no different. Practice with your child in various scenarios, such as what to do if they see someone struggling in the water or if they find themselves in trouble. Regular practice will reinforce these skills and make them more likely to respond appropriately in case of a real emergency.
Teaching Children to Call for Help in Water Emergencies
A critical aspect of water safety is teaching children how to call for help in water emergencies when needed. Show them how to use a phone or borrow one nearby to dial emergency services like 911. Make sure they know their full name, address, and the location of where they are swimming. This information is crucial for the dispatcher to send help promptly.
Build Confidence in Swimming Skills
Enrolling your child in swimming lessons at a young age can significantly boost their water confidence and safety. Swimming lessons not only teach kids how to swim but also reinforce the importance of water safety and how to act responsibly around water. Look for certified swim instructors and reputable swimming schools in your area.
Always Practice Active Supervision
Even if your child has learned valuable water safety skills, they should never be left unattended near water. In fact, some children feel a false sense of confidence around the water after beginning lessons. It is good for them to feel comfortable in the water, but they should never enter the water on their own. Always provide close supervision when they are swimming, or even if they are just playing near the water. Designate a “water watcher” during gatherings or pool parties to ensure constant supervision, as drownings can occur in a matter of seconds.
Encourage Safe Pool Rules
If you have a pool at home, create and enforce a set of pool rules. Include rules such as no running around the pool, no diving in shallow areas, and always swim with a buddy. These rules will help to minimize potential risks and foster a culture of safety around water.
Lead by Example
By leading by example, you reinforce the importance of water safety and encourage your child to do the same. Teaching children to call for help in water emergencies and know how to act when someone is in need or help are crucial life skills that can save lives. With proper education, practice, and vigilance, parents can empower their children to act responsibly and confidently in and around water.
Remember, water safety is a continuous journey, so never stop reinforcing these vital skills. Teaching children to call for help in water emergencies is just another tool in the kit!