Water safety during the summer

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LINCOLN, Neb. As you plan your summer adventures with the kids, chances are the pool is at the top of your list.

While swimming is such a fun activity, it can quickly turn dangerous if your child doesn't feel comfortable in the water.

Drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death among children ages one to four. It's important to remember how we can prevent tragedies, before they happen.

The Cooper YMCA offers youth swimming lessons and staff there says they make safety in the water a top priority.

Melissa Kinzie, the Program Director, explains that teaching your child to swim can help them become more confident in the pool and it's a great skill for children to have.

She recommends taking these steps to ensure your child's safety:
- If your child does need a life jacket in the water then make sure that jacket is a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket.
- Be weary of allowing your child to bring toys to the pool that are not meant for the water.
- Don't depend solely on lifeguards at pools to watch your child.

Kinzie said, "Supervision is the number one way to keep your kids safe whether you're at a life guarded pool or your home pool or lake...making sure you're always watching your kids which means you're free of distractions, which means put your cell phone down and be really actively watching. And even better, actively playing with the kids."

Amy Cotton is a swimming supervisor at the Cooper YMCA and an instructor herself. She says for younger swimmers, it's important that parents remember their kids need to take breaks from the pool.
And, she recommends parents get their kids acclimated to the water at an early age.

Cotton said, "I think it's important for parents to get their child comfortable in the water just with bath time. You know it's a very easy thing to do. Every night at bath just putting their whole head under...Or just blowing bubbles, very simple things. Because once they get to the pool, they need to be comfortable in the water so they don't get into a situation that scares them."

Also this instructor says if you're trying to teach your child how to swim at home, focus on helping your child learn to float on their back first.

But teaching your child how to swim in the water is just one part of water safety. Parents also need to be weary of the toys children bring in the water with them as well.

The YMCA's Program Director also says anything you blow up like a balloon or raft that can easily pop and lose air, shouldn't be used as flotation devises.

Kinzie said, "You just want to make sure that they don't go too deep. You need to know your own swimmers ability. For instance, those little torpedoes that you can dive down and get, those are great for kids that are active swimmers and can dive out and swim far.
But, the ones that are new to swimming those torpedoes aren't the best. They get too deep too fast."

On their website the American Red Cross has some helpful tips as well. According to them, many children who drown in home pools were out of sight for less than five minutes and in the care of one or both parents at the time. The American Red Cross warns parents not to trust a child's life to another child and always stay vigilante. You can find a list of their helpful advice about water safety in the attached link above.

Another place to look for helpful tips, Safe-Kids Lincoln-Lancaster County, which is a coalition that's led by the Lancaster County Health Department.