When Lydia was 4 months old, we began baby swimming classes. We take classes at U.S. Swim Academy in Coral Springs, FL. Its a mommy and me format, where one parent accompanies his/her child in the water. Each session is 30 minutes, with about 5 students per class. We teach the babies different skills through music and movement. While it's fun to meet other mothers, get in the water, and bond with our children, what is most important is to learn some basic swimming skills. They work on floating on their backs, falling into the water and swimming back to the wall, blowing bubbles, holding their breath, and so many other important concepts. Lydia took to the water so quickly because I started so young. She's very comfortable and calm, which I think helps her to learn. Here's a video of me and Lydia at swim that I'd like to share. This activity teaches the children that if they fall in, they should immediately turn around and cling to the wall.
As a special education teacher working primarily with children who have moderate to severe disabilities, I do have some experience with children who are near-drown victims. Between that and attending swim lessons, you realize how scary drowning can be, especially living in a state like Florida. Even if you don't have a pool or you don't live on the water, you never know what can happen at a friend, family member, or neighbor's home in just a few short minutes of your child being unsupervised. I decided to look up a few drowning statistics released by the Center for Disease Control:
- 1 in 4 fatal drowning accidents involve children under 14.
- In 2005, of all children 1 to 4 years old, almost 30% died from drowning. Fatal drowning remains the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages 1 to 14 years.
- For every child that dies, another 4 are treated in emergency rooms for submersion-related accidents, some of which cause permanent brain damage.
- From 2005 to 2007, there was an average of 283 fatal drownings for children 5 and under per year. An additional 2,100 were treated in the emergency room for submersion-related injuries.
- Children under 1 year most often drown in bathtubs, buckets, or toilets. Among children ages 1 to 4 years, most drownings occur in residential swimming pools. Most young children who drowned in pools were last seen in the home, had been out of sight less than 5 minutes, and were in the care of one or both parents at the time.
Some safety suggestions made by the Center for Disease Control include:
My personal belief is that once you think a child can swim well, randomly throw him/her in the pool fully-clothed to make sure the child can swim to the edge and get out of the pool. That way you know your child is really safe.
- Always assign a designated adult to watch children in swimming pools. Be sure to avoid engaging in distracting activities (reading, talking on the phone, etc.) while watching children.
- Install a fence at least 4 ft high around all sides of your swimming pool.
- Remove all toys from the pool after swimming so children are not tempted to retrieve toys at a later time.
Enjoy spring with your family, whether it's still snowing where you live or warm and sunny like it is by me!