Keep Kids Safe in the Water | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Keep Kids Safe in the Water

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The best age to start teaching your kids to swim is between 6 months and 12 months, says Rita Goldberg, author of "I Love to Swim!"

The American Red Cross says drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages 1 to 14. It is vital to always supervise your children while around or in water. Though swimming is fun and beneficial, it can be dangerous unless you take the proper precautions.

Use these tips to keep your child safe while having fun in the water:

• Enroll your kids in age-appropriate swim classes. According to Rita Goldberg, author of "I Love to Swim!" (Launch Pad Publishing, 2010, $19.95), the best age to start teaching your kids to swim is between the ages of 6 months and 12 months.

• Do not prohibit your children from going near water. Instead, calmly teach them important techniques like floating on their backs, which is the most important survival skill of all according to Goldberg.

• Swim in designated areas that are supervised by lifeguards.

• Although lifeguards may be present, parents should still actively watch and interact with their children.

• Establish rules and set restrictions based on your child's abilities.

• Never leave a child unattended near the water. Use the buddy system.

• Teach your child to always ask permission before entering water.

• Prevent unsupervised access to a pool by choosing one with high barriers that enclose the entrance. Keep tempting and colorful pool toys out of sight.

• Children should wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets when in or around water, but do not rely on these alone.

• Keep a first-aid kit, a cell phone, and reaching and throwing equipment nearby whenever you are near a pool or beach.

• Enroll in some safety courses such as CPR or first aid to know how to prevent and respond should an emergency occur.

• Check the water first if a child goes missing near water. Seconds can mean the difference between survival and brain damage to your child—or death.

• Know when to call 9-1-1.

Sources: http://www.redcross.org and http://www.ilovetoswimthebook.com.

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