Friday, July 13, 2012

Water Safety and The Gift of Parental Presence

Summer is a great time to hit beaches, lakes, and pools; they're great places for kids to play, cool off, and make fun summer memories! But they are also places where children die. That may sound dramatic, it may even smack of hyperbole; but I hope it caught your attention, because it is tragically true.  Countless children drown or nearly drown every summer; often simply because their parents were distracted for a moment. 

If you haven't already, please take a moment to read the heart-wrenching tale of Jordan Page. Her account of almost losing her son because she was busy on her cell phone is a humbling and terrifying reminder that it only takes a moment for a young child to slip unnoticed beneath the surface of the water where death lays silently in wait. 

Her article is an unapologetic wake-up call to remind parents, not only that they need to make the safety and well-being of their children a priority, but that being truly present for your child can not only save them from potentially fatal accidents, but can help them know how loved, valued, and special they are.  Who among us thinks their child is any less than the most precious treasure with which they have ever been entrusted?  But how often do we convey that to them through our actions and words?  Read Jordan's story - you'll be glad you did (once you've stopped crying).

Below are water safety tips; and while they are all valuable, life-saving suggestions, none of them are as important as the first:

  • Practice vigilant parental supervision - Whenever your child is near water, be there with them, if possible.  If you cannot be in the water with them, keep them constantly in your line of sight (as unlikely as it may seem, even a  large bucket of water can pose a drowning hazard to a toddler).
  • Have your child take child swim lessons - Without a doubt, this is one of the greatest returns on investment there is.  Children gain familiarity with the water and learn basics such as treading water and floating.  Lessons can save lives.
  • Use approved floatation devices - No matter how strong a swimmer your child may be, if your attention is divided or your child will be swimming more than an arm's length away from you, a floatation device is a good idea.  For children who are not strong swimmers or any young person going out in a boat, a Coast Guard approved floatation device should be mandatory.
  • Use caution around open water - Rivers, lakes, oceans and other open bodies of water can have dangerous currents or sudden drop-offs; swim only in areas with lifeguards where conditions have been determined to be reasonably safe.  Discourage diving in any body of water unless the area is designated as safe for diving. Swim only in posted areas and obey all posted signage.
  • Practice pool safety - Never allow children to swim unsupervised. Discourage diving. Keep all pools enclosed by a locked fence that cannot be climbed to prevent accidental access (hot-tubs should be covered and locked when not in use). Be sure there is a perimeter alarm to alert you if a child wanders into the pool area unsupervised.
  • Be prepared - Learn infant and child CPR and keep a phone nearby in case of an emergency.
If you take only one thing away from this blog post, I hope it is this: that the opportunity to provide parental supervision is a precious gift, a gift that can be stolen from you forever in mere moments.  Choose to be, as Jordan puts it, truly present, not just "there;" it can make all the difference in the world.

Safe and happy travels.
- Destination Mom


  1. Wow, thanks for referencing my post! It means so much to me! I can only hope it helps inspire others. Thanks for all of the greats tips and information. Here's to safety this summer! :)

  2. Thanks for stopping by Jordan, and for writing such an honest, heart-wrenching piece - it was an honor to share your eye-opening, cautionary tale. Your site is a real treasure! I'm just so glad your son was okay... and hope that by spreading the word we can help raise awareness of the importance of being truly present. Best wishes for a happy and safe summer!!! :)

  3. These are great tips. Also, I would suggest that you teach children water safety and swimming skills as early as possible. This will be a big help. Alaska Marine Insurance