It doesn’t matter if your kid is in a pool or the ocean, a good swimmer or a bad one, experts say supervision is a must.
Never swim alone. This adage is often shared with youth and adults in an effort to keep everyone safe, especially in the days leading up to summer.
But how about never let your kids swim unsupervised? This bit of advice is less talked about. The thing is, many parents actually feel it’s OK for their kids to swim without an adult around, watching. Experts, however, say it’s not.
Every year, about 1,000 American kids die by drowning and up to 5,000 are taken to the emergency room with non-fatal injuries that happened while swimming, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Why are the accidents happening? No one wishes ill on their own kids who are having fun in the pool or at the lake, but a nationwide poll indicates that parents may be underestimating the risk of drowning. It might be a simple case of adults thinking that a mishap probably won’t ever happen to them.
The C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health found that while parents hesitate to let their kids swim unsupervised in a lake or at the ocean, more than a third (35%) feel that it’s OK for them to swim without adult supervision at a hotel or neighborhood pool.
When parents have kids that can swim well, that percentage goes up to 45%.
A False Sense of Security
Rather shockingly, a total of 14% of parents who have kids who can’t swim on their own, feel it’s OK for them to go out unsupervised to the local watering hole.
The problem is, familiar places and backyard pools seem to give adults a false sense of security, says poll co-director and Mott pediatrician Dr. Gary L. Freed.
“We know that drowning can occur anywhere, often instantly and silently,” he said in a statement released by the University of Michigan. “We strongly advise parents to closely supervise kids at all times, even if they think their child is a good swimmer. Drownings can, and do, happen in private and hotel pools as well as in lakes and the ocean-even at shallow depths.”
Accessible Swimming Lessons
What can we do fix things? The poll leaders expressed the idea that attending formal swimming lessons reduces the risk of drowning but admitted that lessons aren’t always an option for everyone.
“…some families may have to work harder to find opportunities for their children to become comfortable and confident in the water. Some neighborhoods don’t have a public swimming pool and the cost of swimming lessons can be a barrier for some families,” Dr. Freed said.
But he highlighted the fact that many communities in the U.S are looking at this problem and creating new accessible, more affordable swimming lessons for kids.
Even if lessons weren’t on your plate last year as a parent, Freed advises checking in with your community parks and recreation programs this summer, to see what’s out there.
If there aren’t swimming lesson options for everyone, contact your local leaders and ask if they could be. It will save lives.
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