A PSA about watching kids at the pool - Mothering Forums

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Old 08-04-2011, 08:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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.


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Old 08-05-2011, 12:09 AM
 
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Thanks for the reminder.  Glad everyone is ok!


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Old 08-10-2011, 12:18 PM
 
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I agree.  My ds is 4 and I hate to take my eyes off of him for even a second. 


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Old 08-10-2011, 03:56 PM
 
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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?

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Old 08-10-2011, 04:32 PM
 
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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.


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Old 08-10-2011, 05:03 PM
 
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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.)

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Old 08-10-2011, 06:02 PM
 
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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.


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Old 08-10-2011, 06:13 PM
 
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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.
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Old 08-10-2011, 10:51 PM
 
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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.


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Old 08-10-2011, 11:21 PM
 
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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.


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Old 08-11-2011, 10:57 AM - Thread Starter
 
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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.

 

 


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Old 08-11-2011, 11:36 AM
 
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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.

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Old 08-11-2011, 12:19 PM
 
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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.

 

 

 


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Old 08-11-2011, 12:22 PM
 
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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.

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Old 08-11-2011, 02:23 PM
 
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Nevermind

 

 


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Old 08-11-2011, 02:25 PM
 
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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.


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Old 08-11-2011, 02:52 PM
 
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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.

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Old 08-11-2011, 03:41 PM
 
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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.

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Old 08-11-2011, 05:31 PM
 
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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.


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Old 08-11-2011, 05:54 PM
 
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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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Old 08-11-2011, 06:06 PM
 
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I went to a gathering recently that was meant to be a professional meeting but "kid-friendly." It was at a lake. I was picturing we'd meet and talk by the edge of the water, the kids playing at our feet. What the organizer had in mind, it turned out, was for us to be sitting at picnic tables with maaaaaybe a partial view of the swimming area. My kids are 5 and 2.5, neither can swim without floaties. I opted to stay by/in the water so I could keep an eye on my kids, and I missed the meeting (except when I brought the kids over to get snacks.) A few people seemed really perplexed by this, as though I was being a helicopter mom or something. "There are two lifeguards," they kept telling me. Ah, you mean the two teens who look half asleep and keep chatting with each other instead of watching the water?

 

To me, lifeguards are IN ADDITION to parental supervision, not instead of. I thought this was a basic fact. Huh.


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Old 08-12-2011, 01:55 AM
 
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Swimming this summer is kind of shot for me because I have a two month old in my arms I want to keep out of the direct sun, and a three yr old who loves water and thinks he can follow his seven yr sister out to where she can swim. There's no way i would take them swimming without another adult to help me. We've been going in the evening with my husband and what usually happens is this, I wade in the water holding the baby and try to manage the toddler in shallow water while he swims out deeper with my daughter. Sometimes I have to go nurse the baby and I call them in to watch our son. I feel like he doesn't watch him closely enough and the whole time i'm just a nervous wreck!! I'd rather not go at all! But the kids love it.

My mom had my daughter at the pool when she was five and had to jump in right in front of the lifeguard to save her from drowning. It can happen so fast.

 

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Old 08-12-2011, 02:00 AM
 
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I went to a gathering recently that was meant to be a professional meeting but "kid-friendly." It was at a lake. I was picturing we'd meet and talk by the edge of the water, the kids playing at our feet. What the organizer had in mind, it turned out, was for us to be sitting at picnic tables with maaaaaybe a partial view of the swimming area. My kids are 5 and 2.5, neither can swim without floaties. I opted to stay by/in the water so I could keep an eye on my kids, and I missed the meeting (except when I brought the kids over to get snacks.) A few people seemed really perplexed by this, as though I was being a helicopter mom or something. "There are two lifeguards," they kept telling me. Ah, you mean the two teens who look half asleep and keep chatting with each other instead of watching the water?

 

To me, lifeguards are IN ADDITION to parental supervision, not instead of. I thought this was a basic fact. Huh.


I can't believe anyone would be perplexed by you wanting to watch them in the water! They must not have been moms!

 

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Old 08-12-2011, 05:19 AM
 
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I can't believe anyone would be perplexed by you wanting to watch them in the water! They must not have been moms!

 


They were all moms! Most of their kids were older than mine, but there was one other 5yo with floaties on. Everyone else thought it was OK to be that far from their kids in the water because of the lifeguards. I guess everyone has their own feelings about water safety.

 


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Old 08-12-2011, 06:38 AM
 
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I wouldn't feel comfortable leaving them alone in the situation you described, either - and I'm usually on the more relaxed side of the spectrum.

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Old 08-12-2011, 09:24 AM
 
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My in-laws have an above ground pool, so I guess it's about 4 to 4.5 feet deep?  They send my brother-in-law out to swim by himself all the time (he's 12).  He's a decent enough swimmer but that's really a new development because before this year he really wasn't all that coordinated.  It makes me super nervous every time they send him out...they rarely go out with him.  I usually ask him to wait a bit until his mom or I can go out and sit out there with him and every time they basically say "oh no, it's fine he can go alone".

 

I grew up with a pool in our backyard and spent hours a day in it but my mom NEVER let me in it unless she was next to the pool or on the porch about 5 feet away.  I knew that I had to wait until she was done cleaning, etc and could come out with me.  I found it annoying but I understood and I never went in the pool if I was the only person home, I still don't.  It's just not safe and I don't understand how my in-laws can be so non-chalant about letting him swim unsupervised.

 

I'm a certified lifeguard and I definitely think that people should pay more attention to their kids while they're in the pool.  Things can happen so quickly and the lifeguard can only look in so many places at once.

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Old 08-13-2011, 11:41 AM
 
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I swim with my girls.  I taught them how to swim and I stay by them.  Now I'm letting them swim alone while I sit and watch.  I won't leave them in the pool by themselves just yet.  It's not an age thing either it's all of us being ready.  They certainly don't seem to have a problem with it and would rather me swim with them.  They love that part. 

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Old 08-13-2011, 12:23 PM
 
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I have a pool in my backyard and I'm pretty lenient, but I wouldn't let one child go into the pool alone.  I don't even think I should be in the pool alone, but I will do it on occasion.  I generally sit on the patio or deck to watch my children in the pool (who are 12 and 7), but this summer I've also left the door open to the deck so I could do some things in the kitchen and still hear them, and pop out on the deck every couple of minutes, but it's easier just to sit out there with them.  My kids never want to swim by themselves, however, they find that incredibly boring.
 

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Originally Posted by PumpkinButts View Post

My in-laws have an above ground pool, so I guess it's about 4 to 4.5 feet deep?  They send my brother-in-law out to swim by himself all the time (he's 12).  He's a decent enough swimmer but that's really a new development because before this year he really wasn't all that coordinated.  It makes me super nervous every time they send him out...they rarely go out with him.  I usually ask him to wait a bit until his mom or I can go out and sit out there with him and every time they basically say "oh no, it's fine he can go alone".

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Old 08-14-2011, 11:21 AM
 
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I had an experience like that, which was an absolute nightmare, my DD was 26 month old and DS was just born, a couple of days old. We were at a water playground with friends, and my friend had my dd in the water, the water level was maybe 15 inches, maybe even less, and she turned to talk to her DH, who was with her son, DD slipped and fell, and got her head under water and my friend did not recognize it! I was screaming from the edge, in absolute panic, I was not even able to get to her myself (which is rather ridiculous, since she was maybe 15 m away) and my friend kept talking to her DH, for what felt like an eternity! DD did not get her head above the water on her own, and it took ... I don´t know, having been in this state of panic, but I guess around 20 - 30 sec until my friend recognized me and pulled DD out of the water. 

She was unharmed, and did not even develop a fear of water, but I have! I am sooo careful around it, and I really want them to learn how to swim, but she does not know it yet, and DH is not allowed to go to the pool with DD (5) and DS (3) without me, since he has ADD and I will so not take chances!

 

 


Trin with DH , DD(7)  and DS(5) ,  DD(2) ,
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Old 08-15-2011, 02:45 PM
 
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For the backyard pool, our family rule is no kids swimming by themselves. For the older nieces and nephews (ages 8 and 10), an adult actively watching them is okay but for the younger kids, there is always an adult in the pool and at least one on the deck. The ratio for the kids that are in the 3-6 range is 1 adult to 2 kids but for the little ones, it is one on one. The older kids don't wear them but all the younger ones wear lifevests.
We don't go to the public pool with our kids because it is so chaotic and it is much harder to watch them there. An important thing to remember is that drowning people don't make a lot noise.
I know this sounds a little extreme but I also have good reason for the rules we use. Last summer, my 3 yr old went swimming at least three times a week and was very confident in the water. At the end of June, my mom had a swim party at their house and there were about 10 children and 18 adults in and around the pool. I had been in the pool with my 9 month old son and my daughter and had decided that my son needed to go inside for a bit so I also told my daughter she had to get out. Another parent told me they were getting in and that they would watch her and I had another adult also volunteer to keep an eye on her. I had been inside for about three minutes when I looked out the window and saw my daughter floating face down in the water.
I ran outside, jumped in and pulled her out before anyone even saw her. She was unconscious, was not breathing and her skin was blue. Of all the adults there, none knew CPR except for me. Most of them were in complete shock and did nothing but watch.
I do not know how long she was under but I know she was without oxygen long enough to start having seizures. After the longest stretch of my life, I was able to revive her. She started crying at the same time that the paramedics arrived. She spent a night in the hospital and although she is not afraid of the water, she still asks me about "when she went under the water and got sick."
At the hospital, the doctors and staff repeatedly told us that we should always make sure there are adults watching. There were 12 adults on the deck or in the water when my daughter almost drowned and she was wearing floats. Whether it was distraction or people just didn't realize what they were seeing, she almost died. Around water, I think there should always be at least one person that is doing absolutely nothing other than watching the kids and that they should switch out so that the attention span doesn't wander. I also think it is critical for parents and caregivers to learn CPR and refresh their training on a regular basis.
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