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Essential swim safety tips

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Posted: Monday, May 26, 2014 10:00 pm | Updated: 1:37 am, Fri Oct 3, 2014.

(BPT) - As families start heading to local pools, lakes and beaches for warm weather fun, the staggering statistics around drowning risks take on renewed importance. Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death for infants and young kids between the ages of one and 14 in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s also the fifth leading cause for Americans of all ages.

Alicia Kockler, a swim safety expert and director of swim programming at Life Time – The Healthy Way of Life Company, provides the following tips to ensure fun, safe swimming experiences this summer and beyond.

Invest in swim lessons. The safety of your kids – and yourself – is vital. Investing in swim lessons is the best way to ensure confidence and skill in the water. Starting kids young often leads to more success in the water but most programs, including Life Time Swim, offer lessons through adulthood for all swimming abilities.

Maintain visual contact. A lifeguard is no substitute for maintaining visual contact and close proximity to your kids at all times. Never turn your back on a child when he or she is in the water, not even for a moment. Don’t mistake water wings, flotation devices, life jackets or lifeguards for absolute safety.

Follow a 25:10 rule. Life Time operates by a 25:10 rule and suggests parents use it as a safety measure in all bodies of water. The 25:10 rule proposes that if a child cannot swim 25 meters continuously without assistance, an adult must be within 10 feet at all times.

Limit the non-swimmer to swimmer ratio to less than 3:1. Limiting the amount of non-swimmers to swimmers will directly impact your ability to better supervise each non-swimmer.

Get CPR certified. Take a class and learn how to perform CPR in case an emergency does occur.

Teach safety basics. Keep children safe by teaching water safety basics such as: always wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket, no running by the pool, no going into the water without an adult nearby and reach for a pole or line that has been thrown out if you’re struggling in the water. Strollers and car seats should be kept at least four feet from any body of water.

Take breaks at least every two hours. There’s a reason public pools have safety breaks. Rest, rehydrate and reapply sunscreen before returning to the water for more fun.

Designate a meeting spot. Use a brightly colored towel to designate a meeting spot and establish regular times to check-in.

Kockler also suggests taking showers with soap before and after entering any body of water, always washing hands after restroom use and making sure children under the age of 3 always wear a snug fitting plastic pant over their swim diaper to prevent contamination.

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