Common Swimming Misconception #2: Do You Have The Facts?

In a concerted effort to ensure that you as a parent, grandparent or caregiver are fully aware of the facts surrounding children’s safety in the water, we continue with our series regarding parent’s common misconceptions. Read Common Misconception #1 here.

The Facts:

  • Nearly 800 children drown in the U.S. annually, according to Safe Kids Worldwide.
  • Drowning is the #1 cause of injury-related death among children ages 1-4, and the #2 cause for children up to 14, according to the CDC.

Misconception #2: Nothing bad will happen if I take my full attention off of my child for a couple of minutes.

According to a survey by Safe Kids Worldwide, one out of three parents surveyed have left their child at a pool for two or more minutes without supervision. Doesn’t sound too long, does it? But it is. Drowning happens quickly, and the reality is that you may have less than a minute to react once a child begins to struggle.

Although there are several layers of protection to keep children safe in the water (swim lessons, fences/barriers, CPR), supervision plays a key role in safety, and lack of supervision was present in the majority of drowning cases examined, per the study.

“Supervision was missing almost half of the time that children drowned in pools. Even when present, caregivers were often not providing adequate supervision due to drugs, alcohol, injury/illness or distraction (56 percent of the 659 cases where supervision was present). For natural water settings, 6 out of 10 fatal drownings happened in the presence of a supervising adult and in 4 out of 10 cases supervision was needed but absent.”

We know that constant visual supervision of children in and around water can be a challenge and that distraction is most often unintentional, but vigilant attention can literally save lives. 91% of parents surveyed said that their activities while around the water included supervising their children, but they also reported being distracted by such things as phones and reading books. The frequency of the distractions was directly proportional to the age of the children as they grew older, however, and the following numbers were noted regarding distractions around the water:

To keep water safety in perspective, please remember that small children are exposed to enough water in the bathtub to warrant constant supervision. In the 10 seconds it takes to cross a room to get a towel, an infant can be submerged. In the 2 minutes it takes to answer the phone, a child can lose consciousness. In the 4+ minutes it can take to walk to the front door and sign for a package, a child who is submerged in a bathtub or pool can sustain permanent brain damage. Any amount of water that can cover the mouth and nose, whether from a pool, bathtub, or bucket, is enough to warrant supervision.

At Aqua-Tots Swim Schools, we are committed to teaching children worldwide to swim, as well as addressing common misconceptions to promote awareness among parents, grandparents and caregivers. Please remember that your role in your child’s safety is key, and teaching them how to swim is a life saving tool.