Summer swimming safety tips for parents and children

Summer is here and that means families are heading to pools for a little fun in the water, but with that fun comes an important responsibility — the safety of our children. Unfortunately, we've already seen tragedy strike in our area with recent drownings, but there are things parents can do to help keep their children safe.

The first and perhaps most obvious, swimming lessons. A pediatrician we spoke to says if possible, it's best to have your children take lessons by age 4. But don't assume they're safe just because they had lessons.

If you have a pool in your backyard, make sure there's a secure fence around it that's climb resistant to a child. Also, make sure it has an entry that locks and only opens toward the outside. For those who don't have their own pools and use apartment complex pools or public pools, those are not always secure and they don't always have a lifeguard. But whether it's your pool, or someone else's, it all boils down to one thing - an alert adult.

"It's so important for parents to make sure a responsible adult is supervising children at all times," said Dr. Pam Sanders, Kelsey Seybold. "Tragedies can happen in just a split second, and so a non-distracted adult just needs to be with those kids if they're going to be near or in a swimming pool."

Dr. Sanders also recommends using things like floats, or Coast Guard approved life vests which will help keep a child afloat in the water.

If you're in Houston and want to learn more safety tips, or even get lessons, Houston's Park and Recreation Department offers free swimming lessons at over 30 aquatic centers throughout the city. There's classes for children and adults at all different levels, including beginner, intermediate and advanced. The lessons are free, but you must register online.

You can also check your local YMCA, many of which offer swimming lessons as well.

While it's great to use as many safety resources as you can, it all boils down to one very important thing - stay alert at all times when you're at the pool.

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