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A PSA about watching kids at the pool

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 

I had a reminder today about how important it is to watch kids very closely around water, no matter how shallow. I'm always right there with my kids in the water, sometimes to the point of paranoia it feels like, but today I'm so glad I was there.

 

We were at a wading pool and DS - almost 3 - was in thigh deep water and fell over. He panicked and couldn't or didn't get up. He has some motor skill issues, but does very well in the water, so there was no physical reason he couldn't just stand up, or even kneel, to lift his head above the water. 

 

Fortunately I was right there so he was only under for a few seconds, but it was a long few seconds for both of us. Had I been outside the water watching from the side he would have been under long enough to breathe in some of the water; he was panicking so he wouldn't have held his breath, even though he knows how to do that. The lifeguards were watching the kids in the deeper part of the pool and probably wouldn't have noticed for several minutes. 

 

I hear about kids drowning in 18 inches of water surrounded by lifeguards and people and wonder how something like that could happen, and now I know.

 

It was a scary moment, but DS is fine; he was back to swimming and playing within a few minutes.

post #2 of 34

Thanks for the reminder.  Glad everyone is ok!

post #3 of 34

I agree.  My ds is 4 and I hate to take my eyes off of him for even a second. 

post #4 of 34
Whew. Glad he's OK.

I'm not trying to play devil's advocate, I'm just genuinely curious. When would you start to feel comfortable leaving kids a bit more independent in the pool? I don't mean completely unsupervised. I just mean, not within arm's reach and/or not watching-like-a-hawk. Like being poolside with them and maybe reading a book or something like that. What would be your criteria? Never under a certain age, or not until they reach xyz milestone?
post #5 of 34

Most public pools around here require an adult in the water (aka within arms reach) until 8 years of age & then after that all children must do a swim test of one length of the pool to leave the shallow end.

post #6 of 34
And do you agree with those rules, personally? If it's a public pool, then by all means, you have to follow the rules. I'm more curious if you have a pool in your yard, for example.

Also... what would someone with more than one child do in a public pool? Are they not allowed to swim? Or can there be more than one child per adult in the water, as long as there is a chaperone? (I'm kind of wondering how you could guarantee all the kids would stay within arm's distance.)
post #7 of 34

The rule at pools is generally one child per arm for caregivers ime. We had a one-armed parent who always needed to bring another adult along.

 

Personally I would not use the same guidelines - I would base things much more on ability & temperament of child & the set-up of the pool & my own abilities. So many variables I think it is awfully hard to set in words exactly what would make me more comfortable.

post #8 of 34
This happened to me when my older dd was like 5 in maybe thigh-high water. She was generally ok in the water at that point, but one time she slipped and panicked, and it's like she couldn't figure out which way was up or something. I was there with her and got her upright, but I can definitely see how even young school-age children could drown in a relatively small amount of water.
post #9 of 34

Heck, that happened to me once when I was 13.   I was a very capable swimmer at the time and spent probably 50% of my free time in the water.  My mom, uncle, aunt, younger brother, younger cousins and I were playing in a waist high stream with some mini "waterfalls".... not deep at all.  I slid down one, went under as I had many times before, but this time for some reason began to panic and could not reach the surface.  I remember seeing the light of the surface, the bubbles around me and starting to black out.  My mom was just a few feet away, but she did not see me in the water, or if she did, she must have thought I was swimming.  I thought I was going to die.  Then some man just grabbed me and pulled me to the surface.  To this day I believe he saved my life.  It all happened in a flash and after he pulled me up, we all went right on swimming. 

 

I guess what I mean is that they say that drowning can happen to anyone, and I believe it.  As to how sharply to watch our kids?  I don't know.  I don't think my mom did anything wrong there... you know?  I was 13.  But right now... yeah, I am arms length from my 2yo at all times.


Edited by cyclamen - 8/10/11 at 10:06pm
post #10 of 34

it's a judgment call -- how closely you supervise and to what age. we are pushing our 5 yo with swimming. she's been in lessons non-stop for the past 15 months, and every summer before that. she can now swim the length of the pool (as long as someone is beside her). she can back float and retrieve objects from the floor of the pool. our almost 2 yo *thinks* he can do the same, and is fearless in a bad way in the water. he will not let me hold his hand, and he goes running out until the water is up to his chin. obviously i hound him constantly. i also make sure he is wearing a swim shirt, as i can much more easily grab him under the back of the collar as need be. he's fallen under water more than a couple of times, but i've been right there. and *watching* him constantly too. which is hard, when i also have to keep an eye on the 5 yo -- who is skilled just enough to be really dangerous herself. for example she can push off from the wall and swim into the really deep part, where it's too deep for me to stand. how would i retrieve her whilest holding the 2 yo. so we all have to make compromises, she can't do all the stuff she wants, and the 2 yo can't go out so deep, and i can't get any break whatsoever. 

 

i don't know, maybe when he is 5 and she is 8, i will be able to relax just a little bit? maybe? 

 

we are going to continue with the swim lessons and hopefully get her on a swim team, and then do the same for him. if they become really competent, competitive swimmers then i guess we will have done all we can and at that point just trust that they will be OK, as we trust that we will be ourselves in the water.

post #11 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by seawitch View Post

Whew. Glad he's OK.

I'm not trying to play devil's advocate, I'm just genuinely curious. When would you start to feel comfortable leaving kids a bit more independent in the pool? I don't mean completely unsupervised. I just mean, not within arm's reach and/or not watching-like-a-hawk. Like being poolside with them and maybe reading a book or something like that. What would be your criteria? Never under a certain age, or not until they reach xyz milestone?


I'm not sure I have an answer to that, maybe I'll know once I am there. 

 

But I do allow my older daughter a little more independence, in that I don't require her to be within arms reach at all times. But only when she's in the wading area, in a pool with clear water, I can see her at all times (and she is close enough to hear me if I need to call to her), AND there's a lifeguard present. We've only reached this milestone because she's had swimming lessons and has been taught how to blow bubbles and other basic water safety stuff. For the pool we go to, kids need to pass a swimming test for each progressively deeper section, and it is a heavily lifeguarded pool.

 

In lakes, it's shallow area and arms reach at all times for both kids.

 

 

post #12 of 34

I am so glad he was ok.  I also had a scary experience as a teen...I went on a waterslide and panicked at the bottom and couldnt get to the surface.  The lifeguard didnt know anything was happening, luckily I somehow got to the top.

post #13 of 34

Quote:

Originally Posted by seawitch View Post

Whew. Glad he's OK.

I'm not trying to play devil's advocate, I'm just genuinely curious. When would you start to feel comfortable leaving kids a bit more independent in the pool? I don't mean completely unsupervised. I just mean, not within arm's reach and/or not watching-like-a-hawk. Like being poolside with them and maybe reading a book or something like that. What would be your criteria? Never under a certain age, or not until they reach xyz milestone?

 

Depends on the swimming level. But when I'm swimming with my kids (who aren't strong swimmers yet), I spend much of my time doing a nose count. Ds isn't allowed in water over his head (he's just learned to dog paddle), dd is allowed in deeper water, but only if I'm within an arms' length. She's a decent swimmer but has a tendency to panic and can't tread water yet. If the water is over my head then she has to wear a life jacket. I'm not strong enough to be able to rescue her from deep water. If my feet are on the ground, I can save her. If they're not, I can't.

 

Once my kids get to be strong enough to swim the length of the pool, I'll relax a bit. But I'll still probably keep a close eye on them. I tend to count noses for all kids I'm swimming with every 2-3 minutes.

 

 

 

post #14 of 34

And it's probably time to post the "It doesn't look like they're drowning" tips from the Coast Guard: http://www.uscg.mil/hq/cg5/cg534/On%20Scene/OSFall06.pdf

 

Characteristics of the Instinctive Drowning Response:
1. Except in rare circumstances, drowning people are physiologically unable to call out for help. The respiratory system was designed for breathing. Speech is the secondary, or overlaid, function. Breathing must be fulfi lled, before speech occurs.


2. Drowning people’s mouths alternately sink below and reappear above the surface of the water. The mouths of drowning people are not above the surface of the water long enough for them to exhale, inhale, and call out for help. When the drowning people’s mouths are above the surface, they exhale and inhale quickly as their mouths start to sink below the surface of the water.


3. Drowning people cannot wave for help. Nature instinctively forces them to extend their arms laterally and press down on the water’s surface. Pressing down on the surface of the water, permits drowning people to leverage their bodies so they can lift their mouths out of the water to breathe.


4. Throughout the Instinctive Drowning Response, drowning people cannot voluntarily control their arm movements. Physiologically,  drowning people who are struggling on the surface of the water cannot stop drowning and perform voluntary movements such as waving for help, moving toward a rescuer, or reaching out for a piece of rescue equipment.


5. From beginning to end of the Instinctive Drowning Response people’s bodies remain upright in the water, with no evidence of a supporting kick. Unless rescued by a trained lifeguard, these drowning people can only struggle on the surface of the water from 20 to 60 seconds before submersion occurs.

 

And from other websites:  Look for these other signs of drowning when persons are in the water (http://gcaptain.com/drowning/?10981)

  • Head low in the water, mouth at water level
  • Head tilted back with mouth open
  • Eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus
  • Eyes closed
  • Hair over forehead or eyes
  • Not using legs – Vertical
  • Hyperventilating or gasping
  • Trying to swim in a particular direction but not making headway
  • Trying to roll over on the back
  • Ladder climb, rarely out of the water.
post #15 of 34

Nevermind

 

 

post #16 of 34

 



Quote:
Originally Posted by lifeguard View Post

Most public pools around here require an adult in the water (aka within arms reach) until 8 years of age & then after that all children must do a swim test of one length of the pool to leave the shallow end.



The pool around here doesn't seem that strict.  My kids are 5 and 8 and both go off the diving board (low).  They are certainly not the smallest kids doing it.  I waited in the water near the diving board until I was confident in their ability to surface and swim to the side.  Our pool used to have a swimming test but doesn't seem to anymore.  

 

I certainly agree to keep kids very close in the water, tho.  I've seen so many kids go under even fairly shallow water.

post #17 of 34


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by seraf View Post

 





The pool around here doesn't seem that strict.



Mine neither, and not by a long shot. Heck, there are day campers there ages 5-12 and there's probably one counselor for every 8 or so kids. The counselors don't even get in the water. There's not much supervision at all.

 

My 9-year-old daughter is a good swimmer and can go anywhere in the pool or off the diving boards without my supervision. My 7-year-old son still requires some supervision. He's pretty good, but if he goes off the diving board I stand right by the edge of the pool and watch him. I also am generally within arms reach of him if he's in the deep end. I definitely think it depends more on ability than age.

post #18 of 34
My kids are 3 and 4 and can easily swim to the far end of the pool and back, and love to jump into the deep end of the pool (which is over my head). They spend hours in the pool at a time. I am always near them and they're within my field of vision but I don't want to be in the pool constantly with them, so I'm mostly sitting poolside. (It's a family pool, not public.) So... I dunno. They're way younger than some of the kids here.
post #19 of 34

Also don't expect the lifeguards or a swim instructor to see your child struggling.

My oldest is in a 2 week swim class and on the second day he decided to try to do one of the moves on his own.  There are two life guards at the side of the pool, 9 different swim instructors with 4-6 students each.  They make the parents watch from a balcony.  No one but another little boy(and me, who was too far away to be able to do anything) in my sons group saw him slip beneath the water.   I was screaming at the life guards from up on the balcony and the little boy that saw him was yelling at the swim instructor.  In the end my son came up close enough to the little boy that saw him go under that he was able to pull my son back to the side. 

The life guards and the swim instructor got a large tongue lashing after the class, but in the end my son wanted to stay so he has.  They did move around swim instructors and he has a more attentive one now.

post #20 of 34

the other day at the wading pool i saved a 2 year old. he was acting exactly like Lynns6 described. he was only arms length away from me, so after a few seconds of seeing his eyes glaze over when he was going down, i grabbed him. he was coughing and the lifegaurd ran over to check him. his mother had gone to swim laps and left him with her friend  who had left him so she could check on her own kids at another part of the facility.  the lifeguards at our pool are very good, but its a busy pool and i don't let my kids play alone in the water.  it was pretty scary. i left before the mother came back, so i don't know what if anythign was said to her. the lifeguards are all college students and most of them dont call out parents on their reckless behavior.

 

personally, i play in the pool with dd2 within arms reach.  dd1 is becoming a strong swimmer quickly this summer, but i don't let her go in water deeper than she can stand and i keep an eye on her and keep her in the section of the pool i am in. we have a lot of beach entry pools here which are nice because dd can play in the chest high water and swim while dd2 can play where it is shallower but i can be in the same section with both of them.

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