A refresher on swim safetyFARGO, N.D. - The mere thought of the dangers water can pose to a child is enough to make a parent shudder.
By: J. Shane Mercer, INFORUM, Worthington Daily Globe
FARGO, N.D. - The mere thought of the dangers water can pose to a child is enough to make a parent shudder.
Drowning is the second-leading cause of “unintentional injury-related death” for children ages 1 to 14, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And drowning accounted for almost 30 percent of deaths from unintential injury in children ages 1 to 4 in 2007.
The reality of those dangers has hit much too close to home in recent weeks as two children from our area died this month after near-drowning incidents; one in a hotel pool, one in a community pond.
While no amount of vigilance can alleviate all accidents, there are some ways to help keep summertime water activities safe and fun. Here are some tips provided by area experts:
Keep an eye out
Concordia College Aquatic director Julie Lucier says a parent should “never, ever, ever take your eyes off your child when your child is in the water.” And she says that applies even when you’re at a staffed pool.
Give children clear, firm boundaries and rules when it comes to hanging out around the water, says Concordia College swim program manager Jenna Kragerud. For example, tell them where they can and can’t go and under what circumstances they are and are not allowed to get into the water.
Learn from a pro
Even if a family member has an aquatics background, a child can gain a different perspective by taking swimming lessons, Kragerud says. A child learns “in a different way” when their teacher is someone who isn’t familiar to them. They may also learn some resting swim strokes and other safety measures that they might not get in a less formal setting.
Lucier advises parents to have their children swim even during the cold months of winter. Their swimming skills can take a hit if they don’t practice for a long stretch of time. Lucier says that “it’s just like any skill.” A lack of practice leads to a lack of proficiency. Of course, that practice doesn’t have to be in the form of swimming lessons. Just some fun swims at indoor pools can help keep those water skills seaworthy during the winter months.
No solo swims
Have children swim in supervised areas. Swimming in a place that is staffed means more eyes watching out for your child. And Lucier says no one should swim alone, regardless of age.
The terrible toos
Excess can be particularly dangerous in the water. Look for signs that the child is becoming too tired, getting too far from safety zones, getting too much sun and engaging in too much strenuous activity.
A swimmer’s body temperature can become too cold in the water even if the air temperature is warm. And Ben Jystad-Spar, summer aquatics coordinator for YMCA of Cass and Clay Counties, says the body temperature of a child swimmer drops even more quickly than the temperature of an adult. Signs that a person is getting too cold include shivering, a blue hue to the lips and numbness in limbs.
Worrying about hydration levels does seem odd considering you’re in water, says Dave Klundt, assistant director of recreation for the Fargo Park District.
But because swimming is exercise, just like running or biking, swimmers need to restock the fluids their bodies are using up.
Kidshealth.org says, “Dizziness, nausea or feeling lightheaded can be signs of dehydration and overheating.”