“Water is a magnet for kids,” says Elizabeth Bennett, the drowning prevention expert with Seattle Children’s Hospital. “The 1- to 4-year-old age group is at very high risk around the water.”
Swimming is a fun and great way to get exercise. Knowing how to swim is a skill that can help keep you safe.
Toddlers and preschoolers need constant adult supervision and life vests that fit each time they play near or in the water or on a dock. When boating, rafting or inner-tubing, or while swimming in open water like a lake or a river, adults and children should always wear properly fitted life vests. Make life vests a part of all water activities, just like bringing sunscreen if you’re going to be in the sun.
Check their life vests each year for fit, wear and tear, and style.
Baths are lots of fun for little kids to play in and get clean at the same time. Stay in the bathroom with young children each minute they are in the bathtub. Don’t leave the room thinking that splashing noises or a slightly older sibling will alert you to trouble. A baby’s or toddler’s bath can be a life or death situation, and should be entrusted only to adults.
“Touch supervision is critical. You need to be close enough to touch a young child at all times,” says Bennett.
- Make sure kids know how to swim. Studies show that learning to swim reduces a child’s risk of drowning.
- Wear life jackets. Establish a life jacket habit when kids are young, says Bennett.
- Swim in areas with lifeguards.
Small children are attracted to water wherever it is, even inside washing machines! Take care!
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