Importance of Water Safety Training for Children

Few children can resist the urge to run into a pool and splash around. Smaller children may not know the difference between the shallow end of the pool and the deep end. Older children may overestimate their ability to stay afloat or their level of swimming expertise.

Most children, when they come near a water source, become fixated on getting into or near the water. This is why insurance policies speak of pools as attractive nuisances. No matter how hard a parent or caretaker may try to keep the child away from the pool or hot tub, the child will try equally hard to find a way to get to the water.

Water safety training should start early

The number one way to ensure children will respect and understand the dangers of pools, hot tubs or other water sources is through education. And the first part of a child’s education on water safety is to learn how important it is to know how to swim.

The art and science of swimming begins with children feeling comfortable in water through practicing simple, confidence-boosting exercises like learning how to blow bubbles in water or being able to put their faces in the water without panicking.

Learning how to swim can reduce the number of Canadian drownings 

According to the Canadian Lifesaving Society, “About half of Canadian children never take traditional swimming lessons, even though swimming is the second most popular activity (after bicycling) in Canada among school-age children between 5 and 12 years of age.”

Contrary to what some people think, children do not know how to swim from birth. “Swim skills are not innate – they need to be taught – and all children deserve the chance to learn,” says the Society.

The pool or beach is not the only safety hazard

“Children can drown quickly and quietly, and often in situations where they were not expected to enter the water,” says Rick Caissie, national director for first aid, swimming and water safety at the Canadian Red Cross. “Only one-third of children and youth who drown in Canada were taking part in aquatic activities that parents typically see as risky, like swimming or wading. One-third of children drown in situations where they enter the water unexpectedly, like by falling from a dock or entering the water without their caregiver’s knowledge.”

Swim instruction is the key to keeping children safe. Every parent is encouraged to seek out swimming lessons and water safety training for themselves and their children. Children who know how to swim are best able to handle accidents like falling off a boat or slipping into a pond, and they are less likely to partake in risky behavior around water sources.