Water safety has always been a top priority for my family. We grew up in a town with a lake so from a very young age, I remember learning water safety and daily swimming lesson during the summer months. When my oldest, Miss G, was born we lived in a town with fast-moving water rushing right through the downtown core and had access to a family cottage. We made sure Miss G knew the dangers of water and how to stay safe.
My second child, Miss T, was born in Alberta. We rarely were water side, there was no rushing river racing through town, so she did not receive the same lessons Miss G did by age 3.
At a picnic for Miss Gs school, we lost track of Miss T. It was a miscommunication between my husband and I. I took Miss G to the washroom and I thought he was watching Miss T in the bounce house and he thought she was with me. I met up with my husband after the bathroom break and looked at the empty bounce house. He saw the look on my face and knew instantly what had happened. Neither of us had eyes on our baby.
My panic was compounded by the realization we were right beside a large storm pond. Luckily my husband spotted her little pink dress quickly… and she was sauntering down the hill right towards the water. She was 3 and could not swim on her own. I still have nightmares about how close we came to a tragedy. That was our wake up call to never stop teaching our girls about water safety.
Fast forward almost 10 years. Miss G is at the canoe club on or by the water all summer long and has passed all of her swimming lessons. We thought we were finished with water safety talks with her. Boy were we wrong. This summer we learned our talks are just different now with the teenager. Jumping off bridges, secret unsupervised swimming spots on the river, friends pools with no parents home and boating with 14 and 15-year-old means a different conversation is had.
The talk about water safety should never end with your children. It will change, but it should never end. I had a few scary reminders to keep having water safety talks with my girls.
The Canadian Red Cross teaches pool safety and active supervision is key to keeping children safe near water.
Tragically, hundreds of Canadians drown in pools and open bodies of water every year. Sadly, 1 in 5 fatalities is a child under the age of 5 who has fallen into the water. As I learned with Miss T, active adult supervision and adults knowing how to rescue safely can keep children safe. Register your little ones into swimming lessons where they can learn to stay afloat. Keep the decks by the water free of toys and any other trip hazards. Make sure any pool your child is near is properly fenced and has self-latching and closing gates.
According to drowning statistics (2009-2014), an average of 35 children age 1-14 died by drowning each year while playing in or around water. Again, active supervision (put down the book and phone) and life jackets for weaker swimmers could keep your child safe by the water.
Visit redcross.ca for more information on how to keep your kids safe this summer.
I am sharing this important message as a member of the Red Cross Canada water and pool safety blog team working with Thrifty Mom Media. I have been compensated, but this is an issue important to me and my opinion is truthful, as always.