Parenting

Cecily's Parenting Blog: Making backyard swimming pools safe

Friday, May 28, 2010

The sudden onset of record heat this week has thrown me into summertime protection mode for my kids. When I realized how warm it was going to get this first week of April, we bumped up our pool opening to last Friday.

You hear me kidding with Rick all the time on the air about having pool parties on hot, humid days. It is a lot of fun to have a swimming pool, but as a parent, it's also a great responsibility.

A fence around your pool isn't enough to make it safe.

YMCA swim instructor Lisa Greicco says you can start your child in parent/tot swim lessons when they're as young as 6 month of age.

It will get them comfortable in the water and getting their face wet. And, what seems like play, is actually the building blocks of learning to swim. "We'll have them using the barbell, on their bellies and then we have them turn on their back, showing them if they get tired on their stomach, they can go ahead and turn over on their back. Making sure if they jump in the water to kick their feet so they pop back up," Greicco said.

A game of following the leader, or choo-choo train, has kids holding onto the edge of the pool and, using their hands, following each other to the ladder. This teaches youngsters how to hold onto the edge of the pool and get themselves safely out of the pool on their own.

Swim lessons at your local YMCA start as low as $35, and they provide financial aid if you qualify.

In our pool, we have a rule that Luke and Emma have to count to three (or say "ocho, nueve, diez") every time before they jump into the pool. This ensures that we're not caught off-guard that a child is about to enter the water.

Greicco advises against inflatable water wings since they tend to pitch a child forward, putting their face into the water. A layered bubble worn on the back is better .

Each layer can be removed one at a time as your little one gets better at swimming. Noodles and floats can give your child something to hold onto in the water to rest, but make sure you take them out of the pool when swimming is over (so your child isn't tempted to sneak into the pool later to get them on their own.) The best advice, even when your child learns to swim and you are confident in their abilities, is to never let them swim alone.

I'll have more tips in my Parenting Perspective on Action News this Monday night, Memorial Day, at 5:00.

Happy parenting! Cecily

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