The warm days of spring and summer bring with them the plans of family outings and time spent in nature. Most of these trips are spent on or around water. Whether it's a day at the beach or an afternoon fishing out on the lake, water provides an endless array of fun opportunities. Unfortunately, it is also poses a potential threat to human safety especially children. According to the CDC website, ten people die from unintentional drowning every day. Of those ten, two are children under the age of 14. Unintentional drowning is the sixth leading cause of death among people of all ages and the second leading cause among children ages one to 14. These statistics are scary but they do reinforce the importance of teaching your children how to swim.
I was one of those parents who did not realize how important it was to teach your children how to swim at an early age. My two oldest children were 7 and 9 years old before they learned to swim. Up until that point, we never spent much time in the water, so I never considered swimming to be a crucial skill. It was that summer that we became friends with a couple that had a pool. They gave us full access to it which really pleased my kids but made me a little nervous. Although they had constant supervision, I knew they had to learn to swim not only for their safety but also for my own peace of mind. The process was time consuming but it was well worth it.
It is always preferable to get your kids swimming lessons if you can but I decided to teach own my kids to swim during this particular summer spent at our friends' pool. Since they were not afraid of the water, I just let them play in the shallow end of the pool wearing their water wings for the first few days. After that, I showed them how to move their arms and legs through the water with their arm floats on. Over the next few weeks, they gradually moved into deeper water and eventually began swimming without the floats at all. As their confidence grew, so did their swimming ability. They became pretty good swimmers in a matter of weeks but I never left them unattended for a minute.
That was ten summers ago but it is one I will always remember. We spent a lot of time together that summer and have many great memories from it. Since then, we spend most of our summers in the water. Instead of treading water in a pool; we are usually on the lake fishing, tubing or swimming. It is still great fun and has provided many fond memories for all of us. Even though the kids are now old pros in the water, I still watch out for their safety. They wear life vests on the boat at all times and I still keep my eyes on them.
It is apparent why being able to swim is so important, but it's still not fool proof. Many strong swimmers die because they didn't take adequate precautions. Wearing life vests, avoiding alcohol, watching weather conditions, and not swimming alone are all smart ways of reducing your drowning risk.
Author Biography: This article was written by Briana Kelly, who regularly writes articles and guest blogs on the subject of childcare and parenting. She writes on behalf of Giraffe Childcare, a Montessori School based in Dublin, Ireland.