Swimming safety for kids

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Drowning is the second leading cause of injury-related death for children under the age of 10 in Canada (CMAS Canada.ca’s New in Canada Child Safety Series brochure). In large part, this happens because children are not being watched. Backyard pools are the most common places for children under five years old to drown.

To help your kids enjoy swimming safely, here are some safety tips to prevent untoward incidents:

Establish swimming rules

Before going to the pool or a lake, give your children some general rules of safety that they should remember. For instance, tell them never to swim alone and always pair up with a buddy. Ask them to never to go in the deep area of the pool (or lake) especially if they are not good swimmers yet. Tell them to check the depth of the water before going in or diving. If your child is below five, it is best if they play in water not higher than their knees. For older kids that are intermediate swimmers, water should not be higher than their chest.

Watch and actively supervise

Always have someone close by to watch the kids. This could be you or another adult who is an expert swimmer. If your child is under five years old or is a weak swimmer, make sure that you stay within an arm’s length of your child. Even for older kids who are not good swimmers, staying close to them would be wise as they can still get in trouble especially in open water. They should always wear a lifejacket before getting in the water.

Teach kids Swim to Survive

Swim to Survive is a three-step technique that teaches kids what do in case they fall into deep water. They learn skills that help prevent drowning and water-related injuries. The following video from the Ontario Branch of the Lifesaving Society will tell you more:

Sign up for swimming lessons

Everyone should learn how to swim! There are many programs available in Manitoba for you and your children (you can check this page for courses). And to better protect them, learn basic First Aid and CPR. These skills could one day save their lives.

Practice pool safety

If you have a pool, control access by installing a 1.2 m (4 ft) fence on all four sides. Also install a locking, self-closing, self-latching gate to prevent your baby, toddler and even pets, from accidentally falling in and drowning.

If you have diving boards or slides, make sure that they have a non-slip surface. Also, drain wading pools after use. Turn them over so that they cannot fill up with rainwater.

Life saving equipment should always be close by, such as a buoyant throwing aid with a rope, reaching pole, and a first-aid kit. Make sure that a telephone is always nearby for any emergencies.

Adapted from: New in Canada Parenting Support Child Safety Series, Learn about swimming safety, CMAS Canada/CIC/Lifesaving Society

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Community Resources

The Canadian Red Cross website has a page on summer water safety for activities like swimming and boating. You can also search the site for CPR courses in your area.

Visit the Lifesaving Society Manitoba site to know more about the Water Smart program.

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Swimming safety for kids

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