Pools — glistening, rippling bodies that lures a curious child into its embrace. The magic abilities of a pool, from getting things to float and the cool serenity of it is especially inviting to a toddler. Let’s face it, even us adults are unable to withstand the charm of a pool, especially on hot and humid days (which is almost everyday here in Singapore). Active and curious about everything, toddlers are not yet at the age where they can comprehend potential dangers and develop the instincts to stay away from them. And this is why water bodies are the perfect deadly trap — one accidental slip, and there might be no turning back.
THE SCARY BUT NECESSARY TRUTH
it is the top cause of death for children under 5 years
You get the gist.
Drowning occurs more often than we realise, and it can happen to any child — even in the presence of parents or caregivers. A child can drown in as short of a time as 25 seconds, leaving parents with mere seconds to react. Coupled together with the ninja-like skills that toddlers tend to have, sneaking off and disappearing at a turn of our heads, it can be a deadly equation.
In a research on child drowning deaths conducted by the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), it was found that nearly 70% of the children were not expected to be at the pool but yet found in the water, and 46% of the children were last seen by an adult to be present in the house.
As much as us parents would love to stick our child to our sides and never let them out of our sight for their own safety, we have to acknowledge the lessons that curiosity teaches a child. We have to give them the space to explore and discover the world on their own, and hence we can only stand back and supervise while they roam.
While we might not have control over what they decide to do, what we do have control over is the provision of a safe space for them to explore.
PREVENTION — THE BASICS
As we all know, children have an uncanny ability to slip out of our sight and place themselves in potentially dangerous positions even before we can say “no”. Therefore, we have to ensure that they have the ability to protect themselves by equipping them with necessary water survival skills.
Studies have suggested the water survival skills obtained from swim lessons have helped to reduce the risk of drowning for all children.. Swim lessons can teach your child basic water survival skills such as floating, treading water and how to get to an exit point. These skills would go a long way in preventing drowning, ensuring that your child is able to protect themselves if the time comes for it. It will allow your child to be able to play in the waters safely and with a peace of mind for both you and your child.
Now, you might think that it’s way too early to sign your infant up for swim lessons since they are only months old. Contrary to this, research has actually proven that water play time holds many benefits for an infant’s development. Just being in the water, kicking and smacking at it can help to improve cognitive function and coordination.
However, chlorinated waters might not be good for infants due to their weak immune systems, so many doctors recommend parents to keep their infants from chlorinated pools until they are at least 6 months old, or find a mineral pool that is harmless and even beneficial for their skin.
FINDING THE RIGHT SWIMMING PROGRAM
To make it easier for you, here are some pointers that you have to look out for when choosing which swim program to enrol your child in.
A focus on water survival competency skills
Look for classes that focus not only on imparting swim stroke techniques to your child, but also broader water survival competency skills. The curriculum should teach your child survival skills such as getting back to the surface from under the water, getting out of the water and propelling themselves forward. A focus on this would equip your child with the necessary knowledge on what to do should they find themselves trapped in bodies of water.
Teach good water safety habits
A good swim program will also seek to ingrain good water safety habits. Instructors should teach your child to always ask for permission from parents, lifeguards or swimming instructors before they go into any bodies of water. This would teach them to inform any adult before playing in the waters, and reduce the chances of any unexpected appearances in the pool.
There should always be an adult in near proximity to the child during swimming lessons, constantly ready to provide help if need be. It would be even better if the program allows you to be present during the lessons; this could teach you parents the habit of providing constant supervision when your child is playing in the water.
Check that the place has heated pools that are able to keep waters heated between 30 to 35 degree Celsius, to ensure a comfortable and relaxed environment for your child to learn in.
WATER SURVIVAL COMPETENCY SKILL — JUST ONE OF MANY LAYERS
Nevertheless, remember that water survival competency skills are just one of the many layers of prevention. An equally important safety measure that parents have to take is still to provide constant, attentive supervision. Simple enough it might seem, but many parents might fail to do so.
Attentive supervision is not just an occasional glance every few minutes, peeking at your phone in between glances or sipping away at a cold beer while you watch from the poolside. Attentive supervision requires you to be in your child’s proximity, keeping them within arms reach at all times. It requires you to be in a position to respond quickly, giving them 100% attention, 100% of the time.
It is our duty, as parents, to provide a safe environment for our child to explore the world in. Let’s all do our best together to ensure that we give our child the best we can.
One of the pioneers of baby swimming since 2007, Inspire Mum & Baby have taught many children to be competent swimmers starting from birth. Classes are held in our mineral salt pool in a play-based child focus learning format.
Click here to find out more about our swimming lessons, and here you can read about what parents are saying
about our lessons.