Advice on ways to keep babies safe in the water


by KING 5 HealthLink

Posted on June 3, 2014 at 6:37 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 5 at 6:57 PM

Getting babies used to the water is not only fun, it's also the beginning of a survival skill. Research shows toddlers who took swim classes were less likely to drown.

Why? For one thing, parents of those kids are more vigilant around water.

"That's exciting and important news that all children should learn to swim," Elizabeth Bennett, drowning prevention specialist with Seattle Children's. 

Many swimmers come up short in water-safety skills

Bennett added that parents shouldn't let their guards down because most young children drown during a momentary lapse in supervision.

"They might have been at a picnic and wandered away. They were playing near the water and they're gone," said Bennett. "And then, the parent goes to look for them and they're in the water."

She said to not rely on hearing a child in trouble because drowning is both quick and quiet.

While Coast Guard approved life vests may add a layer of protection, Bennett said they give a false sense of security. The best protection for young children: touch supervision.

"That means arm's length that you can touch and reach your child," said Bennett.

For older kids, the backstroke can be a lifesaver. But no matter your age, Bennett said that it is important to always swim where there are lifeguards on duty.

More information about life jacket safety research from UW and Seattle Children's.