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Take active roll in keeping kids safe while swimming

Gema Alvarado-Guerrero

Parenting Resource Center Executive Director

A favorite activity for many children and their families during the summer is swimming, whether it is in their own backyard, the local pool, or a nearby lake.

While it is a fun family activity, parents and caregivers should implement a set of rules for their children and also for themselves to keep children safe. This is extremely important, as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that drowning is the number-one cause of accidental death for children ages 1-4 and second-most-common cause of injury related death in children ages 1 to 14.

Here are a few suggestions to implement for water safety:

Always supervise your children and eliminate distractions, such as cellphones. Never assume that children will be safe because they are in shallow water or because they know how to swim. Infants, toddlers, and children who are not proficient swimmers should have an adult within arms-reach at all times. If you are in a large gathering with family and friends, designate an adult to be on lifeguard duty.

Enroll your child in swimming lessons. It is recommended that children 4-years and older enroll in swimming lessons, and it is also not a bad idea to evaluate your own swimming skills and sign up for lessons if you are not a proficient swimmer.

Teach the children the don’ts: don’t run, don’t dive in shallow water, don’t swim during storms, and don’t pull or push others

To protect against water illnesses: don’t allow children with diarrhea to swim, use swim diapers for children not potty trained, wash hands often, avoid swallowing water, and dry ears well with a towel or washcloth to avoid swimmers ear.

Regularly apply sunscreen. All sunscreens should be applied every two hours or as directed on the label, even on cloudy days.

Gema Alvarado-Guerrero is the Executive Director of the Parenting Resource Center in Austin. If you would like to talk with a parenting specialist about family challenges, call the toll-free Parent WarmLine at 1-888-584-2204/Línea de Apoyo at 877-434-9528.  For free emergency child care call Crisis Nursery at 1-877-434-9599.