The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently updated its recommendations to prevent drowning in children, which is the leading cause of accidental death among children ages 1-4 years, according to the CDC. The AAP now recommends swim lessons for children as early as age 1 as a way to add another layer of protection against drowning.
While it is important to note that children develop at different rates, recent studies suggest that instructional classes that include both the parent and child can help establish good water safety habits and build water readiness skills. This announcement comes following a critical meeting between the AAP, Olympic skier Bode Miller and Jonathan and Nicole Hughes. The Miller and Hughes families experienced tragedy firsthand when each of their families lost a child to drowning – on the same day, in different parts of the country.
“We owe a great debt to the Miller & Hughes families. I cannot imagine the pain they have experienced,” said Megan Bachman, founder of Oklahoma Swim Academy. “For them to turn these catastrophes into change speaks volumes about the kind of people they are. As a result of this decision, I believe there will be a significant impact on our communities nationwide, as the lives of more young children will be saved by pediatricians encouraging parents to enroll in swim lessons earlier.”
The AAP’s announcement adds momentum to the awareness about this important safety issue.
“We talk about seat belt safety every day but what about water safety? It’s the leading cause of death in young children. It’s time to talk about it,” said Candice Jernigan, swim parent-turned-team member at Oklahoma Swim Academy.
Bachman goes on to say that while swim lessons are a huge part of water safety, there are other layers of protection and all of them should be used to keep your family and community safe. The five key layers of protection include:
- Swim Lessons – Swim lessons help build good safety habits and teach life-saving skills.
- Supervision – Nothing, not age or even skill, makes a child “drown proof.” Always watch your child closely at the pool without distractions.
- Use safety fencing or barriers if you own a pool – The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends four-sided fences at least 48 inches tall with self-latching gates.
- Learn CPR – Knowing how to resuscitate can be the difference between saving a life and tragedy.
- Educate yourself about other life-saving skills – Stay in the know on prevention tips including knowing when, where and how to use floatation devices and understanding the dangers of bath tubs, hot tubs and even buckets of water. A great place to start is PoolSafely.gov.
If you are interested in spreading drowning prevention awareness, Oklahoma Swim Academy has created free brochures to pass out to schools, day cares, children’s activity centers or even to families in your personal communities. Request free brochure packages at OklahomaSwim.com under the “Contact Us” feature. To find an organization near you offering swim lessons, check out our local guide.