I stood in the locker room at the YMCA. This is a parent participation class, designed to teach parents and children water safety skills. I’ll be in the pool with Ethan, my 3-year-old grandson. As I wrapped a towel around my middle, I noticed the sign: “Swim Classes – the Sooner the Safer,” and I thought of my friend Linda, tears streaming down her face, recounting how her granddaughter slipped out of the house – “I swear I took my eyes off her for just a minute” – and almost drowned in the family’s pool.
After I heard that story, I went to the “Y,” picked up a brochure on swimming classes, and asked my daughter for permission to enroll our little guy, Ethan, in the Tiny Tot class.
“Grammy. Here.” Ethan’s voice brought me back to the locker room. He handed me goggles, patted his hair and said, “On.”
- Know infant and child CPR and First Aid.
- Prepare and practice an emergency action plan.
- Have a transportable phone by the pool. Attach 9-1-1 and emergency numbers.
- At social gatherings where there are pools, have a “designated adult water watcher.”
- If a child is missing, check the pool first.
- Keep toilet lids closed and locked. (Toilet lid locks are available in hardware stores.)
- Remove all buckets. Babies and toddlers can fall in headfirst.
- Never leave children unattended in the bath.
BEFORE YOU ENROLL A CHILD IN SWIM CLASSES
- Check out swim clubs.
- Seek programs that teach gentle, gradual, child-paced curriculums.
- Be sure lessons are geared to the level and readiness of the child.
- Request a free skill assessment.
- Place child in a lower skill class if an assessment is unavailable.
- Talk to the child’s swim instructor(s) and discuss health issues and what your child can and cannot do.
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR GRANDKIDS
- Is it better to walk or run around the pool?
- Why would we never run in the pool area?
- What should you do if you drop your favorite toy into the pool?
- Who should get your toy out of the pool for you?
- Should you jump into the pool to try to save a drowning person?
- What should you do if someone is in the pool and they need help?
- How do you dial 9-1-1?
- Is it okay to get into the water when no adult is close by?
- Should you ever swim by yourself?
- Why should you stay out of a hot tub?
TACTICS FOR TODDLER SAFETY
- Constant adult supervision
- Double door locks on all exterior doors
- Door alarms
- Pool alarms
- Perimeter yard fencing
- Pool safety fencing
- Swimming lessons
- CPR/water safety awareness
- Life jackets at all times when around the pool
- “Toe” guards on fences to prevent climbing