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Summer safety: How to protect children while swimming or near water

-Posted on June 10, 2020


The weather is warm and the pools are open! It’s officially summer in Macomb County. A time to soak up the sun and enjoy the outdoors. But while there is plenty of fun to be had, there are also precautions that must be taken to ensure the health and well-being of loved ones. 


This is why the Make Macomb Your Home blog is launching a new series on summer safety. Today’s focus will be on protecting children while swimming or near the water - but stay tuned for additional features on boating, fireworks, grilling and other summer activities. Our goal is to keep you informed so you can protect your loved ones this season. 


How to keep children safe while swimming or near water


Did you know: Among preventable injuries, drowning is the leading cause of death for children aged one to four-years-old. It’s certainly a troubling statistic and something that parents, grandparents and guardians should know. They should also be aware of the following:

  • Drowning is silent. There can be very little splashing, waving or screaming.
  • Drowning is quick. Once a child begins to struggle, you may have less than a minute to react. 
  • Watching your child in the water is your responsibility. A lifeguard’s job is to enforce rules, scan rescue and resuscitate. 
  • Swim lessons are essential, but skill level varies. Many children who drowned in pools reportedly knew how to swim. 


This may put people on edge, as it should. But there are steps and precautions that can be taken to ensure a child’s safety. For instance, parents, grandparents or guardians should help children learn how to swim and also develop these five water survival skills:

  1. Step or jump into water over his/her head and return to the surface.
  2. Float or tread water for one minute. 
  3. Turn around in a full circle and find an exit from the water.
  4. Swim 25 yards to the exit.
  5. Exit from the water without using the ladder.


Parents and guardians should also be aware of these safety tips from Safe Kids Worldwide:


  • Watch kids when they are in or around water, without being distracted. A Water Watcher card can help designate a responsible adult to keep an eye on kids in the water at all times.
  • Teach children to swim with an adult. Older, more experienced swimmers should still swim with a partner every time.
  • Swimming aids such as water wings or noodles are fun toys for kids but are not appropriate to be used as a personal floatation device (PFD). Be sure to use a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket or PFD for your kids.
  • Teach children that swimming in open water is NOT the same as swimming in a pool. They need to be aware of uneven surfaces, river currents, ocean undertow and changing weather. See more open water safety tips.


So this summer, when you’re enjoying a pool or the beach, make sure to keep these tips and tools in mind. It could keep you and your loved ones safe, and potentially even save lives.


Megan Ochmanek is a communications specialist for Macomb County Planning and Economic Development.