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Parents Are the First Line of Defense to Prevent Swimming Emergencies

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By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest

There are many distractions at a community pool or beach. That is one reason why lifeguard instructors and pool managers recommend short rotations and enough lifeguards on hand to adequately oversee the water. Lifeguards should keep a sharp eye on the bottom of the pool and the swimming area of a beach to make sure that no one stays below the surface for too long.

Recently, a six-year-old boy was found at the bottom of a pool during a swimming lesson. He was rescued and is now in a coma. This tragedy serves as a horrible reminder that while lifeguards are a critical component of water safety, parents and caregivers must also remain vigilant watching their children at a pool.

Stay in the Water with Your Child

Pools can be dangerous places, particularly for small children who can’t swim. Lifeguards often find that children go into a pool without their parents. Because lifeguards can become distracted, it is imperative for parents and caregivers to try to stay within an arm's reach of their children when they're in the water.

Watch Your Children during Swimming Lessons

Many parents will drop off their children for swimming lessons, thinking they are in good hands with a professional swimming instructor and a lifeguard on duty. But swimming emergencies happen surprisingly fast. Even with several adults watching kids in the water, emergencies still happen.

Parents should stay near the pool to watch their children during their swimming lessons. That way lifeguards and instructors will have another pair of eyes on the water and can help if a child gets into trouble. More importantly, parents should remain near their children if their kids are not strong swimmers.

Use Only Coast Guard-Approved Lifejackets on Your Kids

There are many floatation devices on the market. Many swimming facilities, however, require that all children wear Coast Guard-approved lifejackets. These safety devices are preferred because they work very well to keep swimmers safe.

Ultimately, it is important for parents to respect the water and to understand that it can be a dangerous place for children. By understanding the dangers and taking the appropriate precautions, parents and guardians can prevent swimming injuries or fatalities.

Photo credit: GJ Cosker

Allison G. S. Knox Passionate about the issues affecting ambulances and disaster management, Allison focuses on Emergency Management and Emergency Medical Services policy. Allison has taught at the undergraduate level since 2010. Prior to teaching, she worked in a level-one trauma center emergency department and for a member of congress in Washington, D.C. She holds four Master’s degrees in Emergency Management, National Security Studies, International Relations, History, a Graduate Certificate in Homeland Security and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. She is also trained in Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue, is an Emergency Medical Technician, Lifeguard and a Lifeguard Instructor. She serves on the Board of Trustees for Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society, Vice Chair of the Tactical Emergency Medical Support Committee with the International Public Safety Association, the Advocacy Committee with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians and also serves as the Advocacy Coordinator of Virginia for the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians.