A hot summer day will make Canadians run for the water, but before bringing your kids to your local pool or open up your own for the season, it’s best to brush up on safety.
According to the Red Cross, about 520 Canadians drown every year.
To raise awareness, the Montreal Institute of Swimming (MIS) is marking this year’s annual Water Safety Week and encouraging parents to prepare before heading to the pool.
“A drowning can happen in as little as 15 seconds,” said MIS president Adam Di Fulvio.
Those critical seconds come with warning signs to be aware of. People who are drowning or having difficulty in the water are not calling for help, Di Fulvio said, they are focusing so much on breathing that you actually won’t hear anything. They will also be bobbing up and down in the water and their head is usually tilted up to the sky in an effort to get air.
“It can easily look like a kid splashing in the pool, so it’s really important to be aware and to keep a close eye on kids when they’re swimming.”
For that, Di Fulvio has ABCs for everyone to ensure proper safety.
Always watch your kids
A lot of parents think adequate supervision is sitting on the side while your kids are swimming around, but if you have young kids — kids who aren’t super confident in the water or very capable swimmers yet — Di Fulvio encourages all parents to go in the water with your kids. Practice “touch supervision,” which means always staying within arms-length of the weaker swimmers.
Be able to swim
There’s nothing safer than having a child who is confident, capable, and able to save themselves while in a pool. This applies to adults as well. Always make sure there is someone present who is able to swim and knows proper safety techniques.
Have a list of safety and emergency instructions, go through it with your kids, and make sure they know how to get help if they need it. Checklists are also available online with everything you can do to your backyard pool to ensure it is as safe as possible. Di Fulvio suggests having a look at the Lifesaving Society website. They have online resources available, including list templates and an interactive tool to check your safety knowledge.
What Di Fulvio really wanted to drive home is that drowning can happen anywhere at any time, even with supervision.
“Last summer there was an incident where a child drowned at a pool party, with parents around and people in the pool. Drowning is a silent killer, it can happen right in front of you without even realising it,” Di Fulvio said.
The always popular pool party comes with a heavy set of risks. The best way to avoid any bad situations is to simply hire a lifeguard. It takes the stress off the parents and allows them to focus more on having fun with their children.
“There are a lot of amazing companies out there that provide at-home life-guarding services. You can never be too safe. It’s very affordable and it’s so smart just to have a certified lifeguard — somebody who’s there not just to encourage the rules, but knows exactly what to look for when it comes to swimmers in distress.”
What about lessons?
A lot of parents think that swimming lessons start around three or four years old, but in reality, you should start kids right away — as young as three months. Di Fulvio recommends trying a parent and tot class. They provide basic introductions to swimming like holding your breath, safe entry and exits, how to float, and how to swim a short distance. From there, your child can enter private lessons when they get older.
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.