Water Safety Tips Every Family Needs To Know

The experts at Goldfish Swim School share practical tips and skills to keep kids safe this summer and beyond

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Image by Goldfish Swim School

Water safety statistics are scary stuff.

Did you know:

  • Drowning is the number one cause of injury-related death for children ages one to four.
  • Drowning kills nearly 1,000 children every year.
  • Formal swimming lessons reduce the likelihood of childhood drowning by 88 percent.
Image by Goldfish Swim School.

Water safety is a topic that impacts ALL families. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently published updated recommendations on water safety.  In the policy statement, the AAP lays out strategies to protect children at each stage of their life. Notably, the AAP recommends that all children should enroll in a learn to swim program by age one.

So, what do parents need to know when it comes to water safety? We asked Randall Barba, the owner of Goldfish Swim School Middletown, Manalapan and Denville to share water safety essentials with us.

What type of supervision is required when kids are in or around water? 

Goldfish Swim School: Any time kids are around water, designate a “water guardian” who will avoid cell phones, conversations, magazines and anything else that might distract the adult from watching children EVERY SINGLE SECOND. Note that most children who drown are supervised. Adults should practice “touch supervision” for young swimmers and keep them within an arm’s reach at all times.

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What about puddle jumpers, floaties and other floatation devices? How do I know which one are safe to use? 

Goldfish Swim School: Know that floaties, noodles and plastic inner tubes do NOT protect against drowning. They are created as water toys, not life-saving devices. Life jackets should be designated as U.S. Coast Guard-approved.

What should I look for in a learn-to-swim program? 

Goldfish Swim School: Enroll children in high quality swim lessons where kids will focus on mastering “water competency skills” — a few lessons here and there are not enough. We offer a perpetual lesson model because we know that kids need regular, consistent practice in order to develop and maintain these critical water safety skills. There is no such thing as “drown-proofing” kid. Water safety should be top of mind year-round for all families.

Image by Goldfish Swim School.

What do babies learn in swim lessons? 

Goldfish Swim School: We have seen first-hand in our learn-to-swim facilities the many benefits of getting kids into swim lessons at an early age. Our Mini Classes start at four months of age and the curriculum creates a strong foundation for water safety. Mini Class activities include singing group songs, games, activities and getting little ones comfortable and safe in the water. Babies practice their grasp reflex, move on to holding onto the wall and eventually inching their way down it. With the help of mom or dad, babies work on their pulling paddle, “Superman” glides, sea otter floats and kicks. As babies progress through the Mini Program, they will work on crab walking, getting out of the pool safely by climbing up using the “fin, fin, belly, flipper” technique and breath control. These activities are the building blocks of basic water safety skills.

What water safety skills can parents practice with their kids this summer? 

Goldfish Swim School: There are several basic skills that our instructors at Goldfish Swim School work on with students every week. Parents can practice these skills with their kids anytime they are in the water together:

  • Work on getting in and out of the pool safely. Fin, Fin, Belly, Flipper! Help your little ones learn how to get out of the pool by manipulating their bodies in this order: elbow, elbow, tummy, knee. Practice this often; you can even do this on your living room floor by having your baby climb onto a couch or chair! After you practice, always remember to celebrate. Eventually, your little one will be strong enough to manage the movement on their own! This is a skill that kids continue to use to safely exit the pool — even when they are older!
  • Jump, Turn, Swim to the Wall! Once they have the movement down, let your child jump off the side of the pool to you, help them physically turn back to the wall and then assist them in getting out of the pool by using the Fin, Fin, Belly, Flipper method. Do this over and over again. As they get more confident, let them go under the water and come to the surface on their own. This teaches kids to automatically turn back to the wall behind them to climb out. If a child were to fall into a pool, this skill could help them find the quickest way to safety.
  • Rollover/Sea Otter Float. Work with your child on turning over and getting their faces out of the water to take a breath when he/she fatigues.

Other water safety tips parents need to keep in mind:

  • Any time kids are around water, designate a “water guardian” who will avoid cell phones, conversations, magazines and anything else that might distract the adult from watching children EVERY SINGLE SECOND. Note that most children who drown are supervised. Adults should practice “touch supervision” for young swimmers and keep them within an arm’s reach at all times.
  • Realize that floaties, noodles and plastic inner tubes do NOT protect against drowning. They are created as water toys, not life-saving devices. Life jackets should be designated as U.S. Coast Guard-approved.
  • Enroll children in high quality swim lessons where kids will focus on mastering “water competency skills” — a few lessons here and there are not enough.
  • Make swimming a family activity! Get lessons for adults who do not learn how to swim and practice swim skills together to keep swimming fun and positive.
  • Know that many drownings happen during non-swimming times. Make sure that there are barriers to prevent children from accessing water alone.
Image by Goldfish Swim School.

Goldfish Swim School is a dedicated learn-to-swim facility 100% focused on teaching swim lessons to kids. Everything about the experience – from the facilities to the curriculum to the amenities — is designed with families and kids in mind. For example, the pool is 90 degrees so the kids don’t get cold. Instead of locker rooms, we offer individual changing huts big enough to accommodate the whole family.  Even scheduling is convenient — families can conveniently have all of their kids in swim lessons during the same slot. Goldfish was created by parents for parents! We want to make the learn-to-swim process as smooth as possible for families. In addition, our curriculum is the best one there. We know because we’ve seen it work on over 100,000 kids over the years. Kids make progress, master skills and have fun doing it!

Classes are offered by specially trained instructors in a safe, child-friendly and fun environment using their research-based philosophy called The Science of SwimPlay®. Kids are learning lifesaving safety and swim skills — but they are being taught in a fun and positive way because we know that kids learn best through play.

Swim and water safety is NOT just a topic for the summer months. Children should continue to in swim lessons throughout the fall and winter to ensure that they retain these essential skills through consistent practice.

Written by Randall Barba, owner of Goldfish Swim School Denville, Middletown and Manalapan.

About Goldfish Swim School

Founded by husband and wife team Chris and Jenny McCuiston, Goldfish Swim School provides swim lessons and water safety instruction to infants and children ages four months to 12 years. Classes are offered by specially trained instructors in a safe, child-friendly and fun environment using their research-based philosophy called The Science of SwimPlay®. Goldfish currently teaches more than 128,000 students per week to swim and be safer in and around the water. Headquartered in Troy, Michigan, Goldfish Swim School was established in Birmingham, Michigan in 2006, and opened its first franchise location in 2009. They are currently in the process of expanding franchise opportunities throughout North America, with 89 schools open, and an additional 100+  in development in more than 26 states and Canada. There are several Goldfish Swim School locations throughout NY and NJ including:  In NJ — Closter, Denville, Livingston, Manalapan, Middletown, Mount Laurel and Wyckoff. In NY — Centereach, Farmingdale, Garden City, Yorktown Heights and Glen Oaks (coming soon) and Gowanus (coming soon).