Summer’s here in the Valley of the Sun, and one of the best ways to combat Arizona’s scorching temperatures is in the water. Whether your family has a backyard pool or heading to one of Chandler’s many splash parks, make sure you’re ready for the season. Brush up on your water safety procedures with these tips, and enjoy cooling off with the kids.
Image via Flickr by wuestenigel Licensed CC BY 2.0
Teach Your Children to Swim
We often hear the sad story on the news: another child was pulled from the pool today. Unfortunately, not every story has a happy ending. According to Arizona News, fatal child drownings have doubled since 2020, going from 8 to an alarming 16 kids. The best defense is a good offense: teach your child to swim.
Organizations like Infant Swimming Resource’s Self-Rescue program are excellent places to find a certified instructor and brush up on your water safety skills. Make sure you know how to swim too. You may have to jump into the deep end to rescue your child, and the last thing you want is for a paramedic to have to save you both.
The City of Chandler offers budget-friendly swimming lessons for the whole family. Sign up for a Parent and Me class if you have a baby between six months and three years. Meanwhile, beginner classes start at 2 1/2 years if potty-trained. Your little ones will splash and play as they learn independence in the water. Teachers designed the toddler’s lesson for swimmers who are comfortable in the water and have mastered the four basics:
- Breath control.
- Bubble blowing.
- Body position.
Use Floatation Devices
The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury in children. According to the 2014 Arizona Child Fatality Review, children between one and four years represent over half our state’s drowning deaths. Parents can help reduce the risk of accidents with an age-appropriate floatation device.
Your first instinct may be to turn to water wings or arm floaties. While these inflatables can help your kids stay afloat, they won’t prevent drowning. These toys help babies enjoy experiencing the water, but they’re far from a safety device. Floaties can easily slip off your little one’s arms, especially if the manufacturer didn’t fit them with a chest piece. The material can also puncture and suddenly deflate, putting your child in danger.
Tread cautiously with inflatable kiddie pools too. They can be dangerous for children under five, says Consumer Reports. Unfortunately, state agencies don’t require parents to install safety fences, alarms, or even covers.
Remember, just because your kids can swim in a pool with a floatation device doesn’t mean they’re safe in Arizona’s lakes and rivers. So when you and the kids burn off some energy on the shores of Lake Pleasant or tubing down the Salt River, you’ll want to suit up with a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
Arizona state law request children 12 and younger to wear a properly fitting vest when boating. Choose one that is right for your child’s weight and water activity. Experts recommend specific styles for young children and youths who can’t swim, and they recommend never putting an adult-sized vest on your kids. Life jackets come in four basic categories:
- Adult (over 88 pounds).
- Youth (55 to 88 pounds).
- Child (33 to 54 pounds).
- Infant (up to 32 pounds).
Know Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
Having access to water for play is an essential part of desert living, so the risk of drowning is unavoidable. Make sure to prepare yourself for whatever comes your way and learn how to perform CPR on children and adults.
Your local YMCA branch on West Frye Road offers classes in this lifesaving technique. Water safety isn’t just important outside, either. Knowing the proper way to administer CPR is an invaluable skill inside too. Accidents happen in the home all the time, in the bathtub, kitchen sink, and even the toilet.
Check Your Equipment
It’s common for Arizona homeowners to overlook important residential pool updates. As a result, safety features may become damaged or broken over the years. So before you open your pool each summer, make sure that multiple layers of protection cover your family.
If you haven’t already, check that your drain covers are VGB compliant, especially water features built before 2008. Ensure your permanent pool’s four-sided isolation fence is in good repair and that it has a self-closing, self-latching gate. Finally, remember to remove portable pool ladders when you’re not swimming.
Enlist Adults to Supervise
There’s no substitute for adult supervision around water. Even if your children can swim and you equip them with an age-appropriate floatation device, accidents happen. Make sure an adult is always watching young children in the water. If you need to leave the pool area, even for just a second, enlist the help of another spotter. Remain vigilant and avoid distractions when you’re on watch, like reading, chatting with a friend, or surfing the web on your phone.
Keep children away from pool drains, pipes, and other openings. This equipment isn’t a toy, and kids shouldn’t play close to it. The suction from the pool’s pump and filter system could cause a swimmer to become dangerously entrapped, leading to a host of injuries, including drowning.
Take the Pledge
Join other Arizona parents and take the Pool Safely Pledge. With this promise, you’ll follow these safety tips before spending family time in the water. The pledge only takes a minute, and you can also download the free tool kit after you submit yours. PoolSafely.org also offers aids like a downloadable app, video tutorials, and a list of qualified instructors.
So, there you have it. Crème de la Crème of Chandler put together this list of water safety tips for you and the kids. Did you learn something new? Let us know if we left out one of your family’s most essential procedures around the pool. We want to share your ideas with other Arizona parents. So, go ahead and drop us a line right now.