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Swimming Safety



The most important thing to remember when it comes to water safety is that children need constant supervision around water - whether the water is in a bathtub, a wading pool, an ornamental fish pond, a swimming pool, a spa, the beach, or a lake. Young children are especially vulnerable - they can drown in less than 2 inches of water. That means drowning can happen where you'd least expect it - the sink, the toilet bowl, fountains, buckets, inflatable pools, or small bodies of standing water around your home, such as ditches filled with rain water. Always watch children closely when they're in or near any water.

Learn to swim, and if your child is older than 4 years, have him or her learn to swim, too (check the local recreation center or YMCA for classes taught by qualified instructors). Don't assume, however, that just because your child knows how to swim, he won't drown. You should always supervise your children while they are in the water, no matter what their swimming skill levels.

Invest in proper-fitting, Coast Guard-approved flotation devices (life vests) and use them whenever a child is near water. Check the weight and size recommendations on the label, then have your child try it on to make sure it fits snugly. For children younger than 5, choose a vest with a strap between the legs and head support - the collar will keep the child's head up and his face out of the water. Inflatable vests and arm devices such as water wings are not effective against drowning.

Awareness can go a long way in preventing accidents outside of the home, too. Find out where the water hazards in your neighborhood are. Who has a pool or water spa? Where are the retaining ponds or creeks that may attract children? Make neighbors who have pools aware that you have a young child and ask them to keep their gates locked.


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