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2015 Jun

Water Safety Skills

Drowning is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. On average, 3,533 people die as a result of drowning each year, and most of those deaths are children under the age of four who drown in backyard swimming pools. The tragedy of these statistics is nearly all drowning deaths are preventable. Parents need to be aware of their children’s swimming capabilities as well as their knowledge of how to be safe around water.

To help parents determine if their children are knowledgeable of basic water safety skills, the US Swim School Association (USSSA) has created a basic safety guideline parents can use to evaluate their children at the start and end of the summer pool season. USSSA also reminds parents that enrolling their children in year-round swimming lessons is one of the first defenses in drowning prevention. Even if children can complete the following tasks, year-round lessons can help children maintain their swimming skills and build strength.

• Flip and Float. Any time a child enters a body of water unexpectedly, he or she should know to first reach the surface then flip onto his or her back and float until help arrives.

• Find the Side. If your child accidentally falls into a pool, she should know how to swim to the side, and either pull herself out of the water or move along the wall to the stairs where she can safely exit.

• Do a Clothes Test. Children might be successful swimmers in their goggles and swimsuit, but if you have a backyard pool, there could be a situation where your child falls into the pool fully clothed. To help your children know how to react and judge their skill level in a situation like this effectively, under your supervision, have them jump into the pool with clothes on and swim to the side.

• Throw, Don’t Go. When asked what they would do if a friend or sibling is struggling in the water, children should know to not enter the water. Instead, after calling for help, they should look for a device that can reach into the water, such as a pool noodle, a foam ring, or even a large stick the struggling person can grab and hold onto while being pulled to safety.

• Take a lap. If you have a backyard pool, it is a good idea to test your child to make sure he or she can swim a full lap of the pool. This will inform you if your child can swim far enough to reach the side or a step to exit the pool no matter where he or she falls in.

To find a USSSA affiliated swim school near you, or for details on becoming a member of the nation’s leading swim school organization visit

US Swim School Association (USSSA) is the largest swim school association in the country with 400+ members providing swim and water safety instruction to 500,000+ students each year. Parents and students can rest assured they have chosen a top school when they choose a USSSA affiliated location. For more info., visit 

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