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Teaching Water Safety at an Early Age

By Jessa McClure

As the weather turns warm and families head to local pools, lakes and waterways to cool down, the issue of water safety becomes even more apparent.

Drowning is the second leading cause of death in children ages one to 14, according to the Centers for Disease Control. But there are ways to keep your kids safe when you're beating the heat.

Melanie Riojas of China Spring said she has been teaching her children how to be safe in the water since they were infants.

"I had my son in the water at a year old and my daughter at about four-months-old," Riojas said. "Once they mastered the basics of learning to relax and float, hold their breath, blow bubbles and kick, I was able to teach them to swim. They were both swimming by the time they were three or four-years-old without [floaties]."

Riojas learned the basics of water safety when she was a child, and she wanted to pass that along to her children.

"Water safety is a must for our family," she said. "We spend our time in or by the water year round on Lake Waco or at the beach. They are never allowed to swim without an adult present. At the lake a life jacket is a must anytime they are on the boat or in the water."

Constant adult supervision and knowing what to do in a water emergency are some of the19775099_s recommended ways to keep your children safe and prevent drowning. The American Red Cross also suggests swimming in designated swim areas in larger bodies of water and in the presence of a lifeguard.

And while teaching your children to swim on your own can be helpful, it might also be important to enroll your child in swimming lessons conducted by a trained professional.

Jennifer Jones of Belton has enrolled her two-year-old daughter, Kate, in swimming lessons at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in hopes of keeping her safe.

"[Swim lessons] are important in case she ever fell in a body of water," Jones said. "Hopefully, she wouldn't panic, but would know how to use the skills she has learned at swimming lessons to keep afloat and be able to swim to safety."

Jones also hopes to instill a love of the water in her toddler daughter.

"I always took swimming lessons as a child and later did swim team, so I've always wanted to pass on a love of swimming to her," she said. "I'm hoping that swimming lessons plus the repeated exposure of swimming at the community pool will help her develop a love of swimming so that when she gets old enough to learn to swim, she will have the desire to do so."

Here is a list of organizations who offer swimming lessons for children:

And once your child has mastered the basics of swimming and water safety, you'll want to take the whole family to one of the many water parks and swimming pools in the area. Click here for a complete list of places to swim.

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