Swimming lessons keep kids safe in the water
July 2, 1997
Web posted at: 11:01 p.m. EDT (0301 GMT)
From Correspondent Loretta Lepore
(CNN) -- Drowning is one of the leading causes of death among children 14 years and under. More than 1,000 in that age group die in the water each year.
That's why the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends swimming lessons for children age 4 and up.
So what should parents look for in a class? Lynne Stark of the American Red Cross suggests instructors who are trained by her organization. "Our classes are about 36 hours so they get a lot of instruction."
The Red Cross also recommends a teacher-student ratio of one to six or better. "And they should always have some safety equipment or a lifeguard on the deck while the program's going on," instructor Doug Voss says.
For children under 4, health experts say so-called "water enrichment" classes are beneficial. Toddlers may adapt to the water, but parents are warned not to fall prey to a false sense of security.
Egleston Children's Hospital in Atlanta offers these suggestions:
- Stay with your child, and be confident in your abilities to swim before taking your infant into the water.
- Water floats designed for tots are sold in toy stores because they're toys, not life-saving devices.
- Make sure infants don't swallow too much water because it can upset their systems.
- Encourage your child to test the water, but forcing could lead to long-term fear.
Instructors can alleviate a parent's fear. "A lot of parents are unwilling to try to go that first dunk or let them go for a second and an instructor [doesn't have] that emotional attachment," Voss says.
The key is to avoid the fear, so swimming fun can last a lifetime.
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