With school out of session and summer in full swing, neighborhood and backyard pools are teeming with children and families trying to stay cool and active in the summer heat.
(ABOVE: Emler Swim School instructors teach more than 45,000 students every year the life-saving skills they need to be safer in the water at dozens of instruction centers across Texas. Photos by Seth Casteel)
However, along with summer fun, experts say water safety must be top of mind.
Drowning is the No. 1 cause of accidental death in children under the age of 5, and according to the USA Swimming Foundation, Texas leads the nation in child drownings in pools and spas.
Greg Laird, CEO of Emler Swim School and Highland Park parent of three, reminds us that many of these accidents are preventable through formal swim lessons, focused supervision, pool barriers, and CPR skills.
Launched in 1975, Emler Swim School, with two Dallas locations – Preston/Forest and Walnut Hill/Central, teaches a technique called “Jump, Turn, and Swim,” which trains swimmers to return to where they entered the water.
The school provided the following drowning prevention tips:
• Teach children how to swim at the youngest possible age because “it’s more difficult if they get old enough to start fearing the water.”
• Assign a water guardian to watch children around water and learn how to recognize a swimmer in trouble. Different than a lifeguard, who is trained in rescue, a guardian prevents emergencies.
• Choose a swim lesson provider like you would a pediatrician or child care provider – do your research, watch them give a lesson in action, and ask lots of questions (style, student-to-teacher ratio, etc.).
• Wear a properly-fitted life jacket – do not use foam or air-filled toys – and practice in the water wearing a life-jacket while supervised.
• Teach children to stay away from drains. A defective or out of date drain may trap a swimmer’s hair, jewelry, clothing, or extremities.
• Always check water sources first when a child is missing by checking water surfaces as well as the bottom. Children who drown can quickly sink to the bottom and appear to be a shadow.
• Timely and effective CPR can save a life. Refresh skills yearly.