Diving into the pool on a hot day is a great way to cool off in the brutal Texas heat. But for a child who doesn’t know how to swim or falls into the pool, this summer treat can turn deadly in a matter of seconds.
One in five people who die from drowning are children under the age of 14, according to the CDC. This means that teaching your child to swim or to know what to do if they fall in water could be what keeps them from becoming a statistic.
Donna Minor, who teaches children survival swimming with the Infant Aquatics program in Waco, said hearing so many tragic stories is what inspired her to train to teach this type of swimming.
“For children six months up to about a-year-old, we teach them breath control and to kick,” Minor said. “But the main thing we teach them is to get into a float. If they were to fall into the water, they could float until someone could help them.
As the children grow and learn to walk, she teaches them what is called a swim-float-swim technique.
“If they were to fall in, they would be able to go into a float and then back into a swim so they can get to the steps or to safety,” she said.
Minor said many of her clients are parents who have a pool or who are near the water most of the year, but she believes every child can benefit from knowing water survival skills.
But the swimming program director said teaching children to swim isn’t enough.
“Parents have to be vigilant about watching their children when they’re in the water,” she said. “Most of the children’s drownings occur when a parent isn’t supervising.”
Minor suggests making a deal with another parent where you will strictly watch the children for 20 minutes and then switch off.
Safety barriers around swimming pools and drain covers are also important when it comes to keeping your children safe in the water. She said it is important to know if the community or private pools you frequent are following safety regulations.
She also wants parents to know that floaties will not save a child in a drowning situation.
“It’s a false sense of security,” she said. “It’s much safer to get them lessons and teach them the proper way to swim and roll into a float.”
Minor believes teaching a child these skills is one of the greatest gifts you can give a child, and has even developed a mantra about swim safety, “Take control, not chances.”
Jessa is the Editor-in-Chief of Hooray for Family and the mom of three energetic children. She has a BA in Mass Communication/Journalism from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, and is a long-time resident of Central Texas. When she isn't writing and editing, she enjoys playing board games with her kids, teaching Sunday school and channeling her creativity into craft projects.