Safety around pools and other bodies of water is essential for anyone, especially children: the leading cause of injury-related death in the United States in children ages 1 to 4 is drowning. And the third-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death in youth ages 5 to 19 is also drowning, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
At such a young age, children should not be expected to do the backstroke. However, they should be able to do the following:
- blow bubbles
- float on their back
Those skills are all building blocks to more advanced aquatic skills. Pools and swimming facilities vary, so parents would want to visit a myriad of them before enrolling their kid(s).
Caretakers should be doing the following:
- Take a look at the pool(s)
- Meet the staff
- Consider whether you want an indoor or outdoor pool
- Opt for a facility that has both a shallow and deep end
- Make sure that only a portion of its space is dedicated to swimming lessons
- Check to see if the facility has multiple swimming lessons or activities that occur simultaneously
- Check the water temperature (they’re typically set from 77 to 82 degrees)
- Inquire about the ratio of children to instructors (the standard is no more than 6 to 1)
- Check to see how long the lessons are (the average class is a minimum of 30 minutes)
- Make sure the instructor(s) are certified by a reputable organization (ex: American Red Cross, YMCA, or Ellis & Associates)
- Make sure certified lifeguards are on duty during lessons
- Inquire to see if the pool is insured.
- See if there’s a separate changing room for families that provide a toilet and shower