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Ensuring the safety of children around water


Kate Artmann

NORTH VALLEY – According to a study conducted by the USA Swimming Foundation, 79 percent of children in families with household income less than $50,000 have no or low swimming ability.

Bob Hubbard, co-owner of the Hubbard Family Swim School, provides low or no cost swim lessons, as he believes that everyone should have the opportunity to learn about swim safety despite their financial situation.

“It is important to create an outreach to communities that are underserved or do not have a history of being comfortable in the water,” Hubbard said.

Hubbard encourages parents to enroll their children in swim lessons, as they can learn valuable skills.

“Research has shown us that when a child goes to swim lessons, the child learns appropriate behavior around the pool, they learn to wait their turn, and then they learn their swimming skills in a good controlled teaching environment,” Hubbard said.

Not only are swim lessons valuable for children, but they also teach parents about their children’s swimming capabilities.

“You may think your child can swim but then you watch them in lessons and you come to the conclusion that they can swim two or three feet off the wall but they don’t know how to swim across the pool,” Hubbard said.

Katie Smetana, Vice President of Operations at Valley of the Sun YMCA, stresses the importance of learning how to swim. Not only does it ensure safety around water, but it also builds confidence.

“Teaching children how to swim and be safe around water is one of the most important life skills parents can help their children learn,” Smetana said.

Paul Schickel, Community Services Program Coordinator of the Daisy Mountain Fire Department, believes that adult supervision, a barrier, and classes will ensure the safety of children around water.

Adult supervision entails watching children as they swim without getting distracted. An adult should ask someone else in advance to answer the phone while they are monitoring children in the pool.

“When everyone is watching, nobody is watching,” said Hubbard. “Pick one person to be the water watcher, and it only has to be for 10 to 15 minutes, and then trade and then someone else watches them.”

In addition, a barrier that separates the pool from the house or yard can prevent children from gaining access to the pool.

“It should be secure enough that children can’t go over it, under it, around it, or through it,” said Schickel. “Self-closing and self-latching gates are recommended. Consider locking the gate when the pool area isn’t in use.”

Schickel recommends taking Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and First Aid classes in order to be prepared in the event of a swim emergency.

“Many times, drownings are silent, often there isn’t a cry for help or splashing water,” said Schickel. “Always be vigilant.”