/Summer, Children and Water Safety.

Summer, Children and Water Safety.

by Kathy Kirby, St. Marks Ark

Summer and hotter weather are here and all of us are drawn to water.  During the fun of summer, it is very important to keep you child safe around water.  Drowning is the number one cause of death for children under the age of 5.  Florida is surrounded by water and with our lakes, rivers, ocean and ponds our state is a plethora of danger.

There are many options for swim lessons available this summer.  Jax4kids.com has a list of just a few resources to teach your child to swim.  Swim lessons are also offered for free for those who qualify thru the Jax Parks.  They offer three sessions:  Session 1 runs from June 25-July 6th, Session 2 runs from July 9 thru July 19th and Session 3 runs from July 23rd thru August 2nd.  Also, the infant Swimming Resource (ISR) offers infant and toddler aquatic survival classes.  Their web site is www.ISR.com.

Another thing that we should do is always have a responsible adult taking care of your child around water.  Make sure a person responsible for watching your child has been specifically designated.  Recently, I had a mom share with me that she thought her husband was watching their child and he thought she was watching their child. The child ended up in the water but thanks to (ISR) the child survived. Never just assume someone else is watching!

Retention ponds and swimming pools should have a child protective fence around them.  It only takes a minute for a child to slip away and wander into one of these areas. Recently, my daughter was telling me about a child that slipped away and ran towards the river on an outing for a graduation.  Luckily the parents were watching and were able to stop the child before he got to the water.

While at the beach, try to always swim with a buddy, swim near a lifeguard station, and watch for dangerous swimming conditions.  Rip tides can sweep away a small child in less than a foot of water.

St. Mark’s Ark each year takes our three and four year olds to the YMCA for swim lessons.  The children have fun and learn so much about water safety and who knows it may save the life of a child one day.

Remember, with a lot of caution and education we can all have a wonderful, safe summer.