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Prevent Drowning by Teaching Children Swimming Safety

Children need to learn to swim. You can help prevent drowning incidents by teaching your children basic safety rules and swimming skills.

The following are suggestions to help you prepare your child for water-related activities.

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  • Teach your children four key swimming rules:1
    1. Always swim with a buddy.
    2. Don't dive into unknown bodies of water. Jump feet first.
    3. Don't push or jump on others while in the water.
    4. Be prepared for an emergency. Instruct children on getting help from an adult or calling 911.
  • Don't let your child use inflatable swimming aids (such as "water wings") without constant supervision. They can deflate or a child can slip out of them. Also, children can develop habits using these devices that can put them at risk for drowning. For example, a child who frequently uses water wings may learn to jump into a pool on impulse. He or she may do so while not wearing the devices, before having a chance to think about it.
  • As a parent, learn to swim if you do not already know how. Also, learn swimming survival and rescue techniques.
  • If you enroll your child in swim lessons, remember that swim lessons will not necessarily prevent drowning. Swim lessons may give you and your child a false sense of security and make you both less cautious around water. Be sure that your child swims only when a watchful adult is present.2

Citations

  1. National Safety Council (2009). Water safety. National Safety Council Fact Sheet. Available online: http://www.nsc.org/news_resources/resources/documents/water_safety.pdf.

  2. Committee on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention, American Academy of Pediatrics (2010). Policy statement: Prevention of drowning. Pediatrics, 126(1): 178-185.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics
Last Revised November 30, 2010

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 30, 2010
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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