In our first article, we talked about how alarmingly common drowning deaths are among children. Then we began discussing ways to prevent these types of tragic accidents from occurring. The first step we mentioned was adult supervision. Now we’ll dive back into our discussion of the proper supervision methods for different age groups.
Elementary Aged Children Should Still Be Watched Closely
As children grow and change, the way you supervise them in the pool will adjust as well. Though toddlers need to stay within arm’s length, elementary kids can have a bit more freedom to roam around the pool playing “Marco Polo,” splashing and swimming to their heart’s delight.
What elementary aged children should never be allowed to do is get into the water with no adults around at all. It doesn’t matter if your child is the champion swimmer on their local swim team, you still need to provide direct supervision every time they’re in the water. That’s because kids aren’t yet fully mature in their decision making or their physical development. They may make unwise choices to stay in the water when they’re getting too exhausted, or to try unsafe tricks like holding their breath for extremely long periods of time underwater. You or another designated responsible adult can keep an eye on them to make sure they’re safe. When you have your kids’ friends over to visit, make sure that they also know they aren’t allowed to be in the pool without an adult there to supervise.
Teens can Transition from Constant Supervision to the Buddy System
As teens mature from early adolescence to young adulthood, you can determine when they’re ready to move from the constant supervision of their childhood years to a buddy system. Even when they get older, it’s not wise to let teens swim by themselves. That’s because an unexpected tragedy is far more likely to occur when someone is swimming alone. This is even helpful advice for adults.
Another important discussion to have with teens is one about safe and unsafe choices. Many young people have become paralyzed as a result of careless actions like diving into shallow water. And as harmful as drugs and alcohol can be on their own, they’re even more potentially lethal in the pool. These substances can lead to poor judgment, decreased agility, and the very real possibility that substance abusers may pass out and drown in the pool. Don’t sugar coat anything when you have this talk with your teens. They need to have a healthy fear of the water. So go ahead and show them pictures of drowning victims who were under the influence of intoxicating substances.
Distracted Adults Aren’t Really Supervising!
This should go without saying, but if an adult is staring at their cell phone, a magazine, or a book, they’re not really supervising the pool. That’s why it’s a smart idea – whether it’s just the family going for an afternoon dip or a big neighborhood pool party – to designate one specific adult as the official poll watcher. This person should make it their sole responsibility to keep their eyes on the swimmers at all times. If there’s more than one adult available, switch off every half hour or so.
In our next article, we’ll move on to our next basic tip for pool safety.
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