Always be sure there is an adult watching kids at all times when they are in or around water, without being distracted. Keep young children and inexperienced swimmers within arm’s reach of an adult. Make sure older children swim with a partner every time. All children need to learn how to swim. Every child is different, so enroll children in swim lessons when they are ready. Consider their age, development and how often they are around water when deciding if they are ready. Make sure kids learn these five water survival skills and are able to: step or jump into water over their head and return to the surface; turn around and orient to safety; float or tread water; combine breathing with forward movement in the water and exit the water. Teach children that swimming in open water is different from swimming in a pool. Be aware of situations that are unique to open water, such as limited visibility, depth, uneven surfaces, currents, and undertow. These potential hazards can make swimming in open water more challenging than swimming in a pool. Wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket when boating or participating in other recreational activities on the water. Children should wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal floatation device (PFD) appropriate for their age, weight and water activity. For kids younger than 5, choose a PFD with head support and a strap between the legs. Use designated swimming areas and recreational areas whenever possible. Professionals have assessed the area, and there are usually signs posted regarding hazards and lifeguard schedules.
Know the Hidden Hazards Swimming in lakes, rivers, oceans and other open water poses hazards you won’t find in a swimming pool. Parents need to be aware of such risks as uneven surfaces, dangerous currents, cold temperatures and more.