(Our very last picture of Miles before his accident....this was really hard to share!!!)
Miles' accident and death has truly changed our family. Our way of thinking and our behaviors individually and as a family have been changed forever. Almost a year after Miles passed I decided it was time to empower Vivian and even myself around water. We had to face our fears and learn how to respect and behave around water. This was and still is not always an easy thing for Mark and I. So we put Vivian in private swim lessons. We wanted her to know how to behave around water and to know life saving tools. (Note: Miles took swim lessons himself and knew basic life saving rules too.) Water is all around us in life and we wanted her to know how to safely respect water.
With the help of our amazing swim teacher Vivian has taken off in her swimming ability as well as knowing and following water safety tips when around any sort of water....not just the pool. It was my swim teacher who helped with all these amazing swimming tips for this wonderful printable that Kate designed.
Kate, Ashley and Tiffany have touched on wonderful points about water safety this month. I appreciate their help in sharing this information.
I want to focus on just a few key pointers myself.
1. Don't ever assume that a child knows how to behave or act in water....EMPOWER THEM to make safe choices! Water is a whole new environment. For instance even though a child can do stairs at home the end of the stairs in water may lead to a dangerous situation for the child. Empower them to know what the "safety stair" is for them. (This is the last stair the child should and can go on to be safe before the water is above their chest.)
2. The rules you follow and implement at the pool not only apply to that pool, but all pools. In fact the rules should apply to all water situations. Remember we want to make "Safe Choices." I even use this verbiage for all things in our lives now...holding hands while crossing the street, not touching the stove, etc. We always want to make "safe choices!"
3. Our number one rule is "Always ask permission before getting into water." This truly is life saving! If your child knows and follows this rule, they should know to NEVER get in water without your acknowledgment. That in turn helps you to be aware of what your child is doing and clues you into becoming a "Child Watcher."
4. Ashely spoke about the "Child Watcher." This is vital. The child watcher is the most important role you have when with your children around water. Don't let yourself become distracted by books, your phone or even conversations. Taking your kids to the pool is not a time to catch up with friends. It's not a social scene. And believe me, I say this as I know all too well how dangerous even just a couple minutes of talking to someone else can be. NOTHING you could be discussing is more important than the safety of your child!
5. NEVER use any floatation device other than a US Coast Guard Approved Life Jacket. No arm floaties, water wings, noodles, kick boards, inflatable rafts, loungers, inner tubes, etc. These only give you and the child a false sense of security. They were never made or intended to be a life saving tool. Miles was using one of the mentioned banned devices. Believe me, if I could just rewind time I would never have allowed him to use that device. These items are banned from ever being used by anyone in our family!!! Seeing people using them literally makes me sick to my stomach. I realize they are being good parents and are trying to keep their children safe, but they don't realize the dangers they are possibly imposing or allowing.
6. Sometimes other children are more dangerous than we realize. Children think they can do what older children are doing, without realizing how dangerous this water environment may be for them. For instance they may not be able to touch where another bigger child can. Yet they follow them out to places that are unsafe for them and find themselves in trouble. Or just by simple child play another child may push or pull down on another child under water, even while wearing a life jacket, making an unsafe situation for one or both children. Part of Miles' accident was attributed to this. He thought he could do what his bigger and older cousins could do and just wanted to participate in all the fun. Again a "Child Watcher" keeping a close eye on the children can save a child's life. Also being no more than 4 feet away in the water from your child could help save a child in need.
7. Swim lessons are worth the time and money! Learning to swim is empowering to children and adults. But just taking swim lessons is not enough. We need to practice water safety and swim techniques. Just like piano lessons, if you don't practice you aren't getting as much as you can from your lessons. We need to practice to learn. And taking swim lessons in the fall, winter and spring is the ideal time. That way when summer roles around and all the water fun begins your child already has lots of water safety techniques learned and ready to use.
Remember that we are all doing our very best. That's truly all we can do and ask of ourselves. You can never make anything or anyone drown proof. But we can EMPOWER our children and ourselves by making safe choices when around water this summer and always!