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Water Safety for your School-age Child

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Swimming and playing in water can give your child much pleasure and good exercise. But you must take steps to prevent your child from drowning.

  • Never let your child swim in any body of water without an adult watching.
  • Be sure the adult watching your child knows how to swim, get emergency help and perform CPR.
  • Keep a life preserver and shepherd's hook in the pool area to help pull a child to the edge of the pool when necessary.
  • Teach your child safety rules and make sure they are obeyed.
    • Never swim alone.
    • Never dive into water except when permitted by an adult who knows the depth of the water and who has checked for underwater objects.
    • Always use a life jacket when on a boat, fishing or playing in a river or stream.
  • Don't let young children and children who cannot swim use inflatable toys or mattresses in water that is above the waist.
  • Watch children closely when they are playing near standing water, wells, open post holes or irrigation or drainage ditches.
  • Teach your child to swim once he or she is ready (usually around five years old).

What to Do in an Emergency

  • If you find a child in the water, immediately get the child out while calling loudly for help. If someone else is available, have them call 911. Check to ensure the child's air passages are clear. If the child is not breathing, immediately start CPR as necessary.
  • Do five cycles of rescue breathing and chest compressions, which takes about two minutes. If the child is still not breathing, dial 911 to get help if someone hasn't already called. Continue giving CPR.
  • If the child does start breathing, lay the child on his or her side; this helps keep the airway open and allows fluids to drain so that the child doesn't choke. Also, dial the emergency number and follow any instructions that the emergency operators provide.
  • If you think the child may have suffered a neck injury, such as with diving, then keep the child on his or her back and brace the neck and shoulders with your hands and forearms until emergency help arrives. Don't let the child move. Speak in calm tones to keep the child comforted. Continue to watch for adequate breathing.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics and KidsHealth Web sites

City of Austin Parks and Recreation
2010 Swim Lesson Information

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Good Health for Kids is produced by Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas.