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The ABCs of water safety all Austin-area families should known

As temperatures heat up, officials with Aqua-Tots Swim Schools say now is the time to educate Austin-area families on the importance of drowning prevention.

AUSTIN, Texas — May is National Water Safety Month, and with summer quickly approaching, officials say now is the time to educate Austin-area families on the importance of drowning prevention. 

Drowning is the No. 1 cause of death for children under the age of 4 and the second leading cause for children up to 14.

Aqua-Tots Swim Schools offers swimming instruction across Central Texas. Karin Chobin, chief operating officer at Aqua-Tots, said it's important for adults with kids to follow the ABCs of water safety. 

The simple, 3-step approach shows families how to stay safe and prevent tragedies this summer:

  • Adult supervision: It is vital that parents stay within an arm’s reach of non-swimmers. Additionally, they must remain focused on older swimmers and avoid distractions such as phones, reading materials and friends
  • Barriers: Backyard pools should have enclosed fencing with self-latching gates and locks. Additionally, families should put away pool toys when no longer in use to ensure that small children don’t reach for them and fall in. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 69% of children younger than 5 were not expected to be at or in the pool at the time of a drowning incident
  • Classes: Children as young as 4 months old can be enrolled in a consistent, year-round swim program until they become safe and confident swimmers. In fact, participation in formal swim lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88% among children 1 to 4 years old, according to the National Institutes of Health

"We start at 4 months of age, and we really recommend starting them soon so they will begin learning all of the skills they need to not only have a lifelong love of swimming but also become water safe, learn the skills they're going to need to be able to save themselves should they fall and accidentally," Chobin said.

When it comes to summer parties and gatherings, Chobin said hiring water watchers or assigning an adult specifically who is in charge of watching the pool is important tip.

"At a party, you get distracted and you might not notice. That's a really common thing that could happen. The other thing is a lot of incidents even in Texas, we're not in a pool or a lake. It was in a bathroom. So the emphasis on the undistracted supervision – don't leave the room, put the phone down and making sure you're focused when they're in those bodies of water," Chobin said.

For those interested in signing their kids up for swim lessons, Chobin said at Aqua-Tots, the coaches try to make the experience inviting. The water is 90 degrees year-round, and the parents are in a climate-controlled area where they can watch and view their children's lessons. 

"Our instructors are fun. Our curriculum is incredible. We've been doing it since 1991, and it's a great environment for the kids to learn how to swim," Chobin said.

Aqua-Tots Swim Schools' program includes the highly sought after Parent & Tot (4 to 30 months old) swim classes, group swim lessons for independent children, convenient schedules and flexible make-up lessons.

"There's a tip for parents to help avoid kids getting into pool areas or going swimming without their knowledge. That's always making a routine around swim safety – so requiring that they wear a bathing suit when they go swimming and then keep those bathing suits on a high shelf where their parents have to be involved to get them in the pool," Chobin said. "That way, you know, maybe you're doing something – you're working, you're on a call – and the child comes out, 'Mom, I need help getting my bathing suit.' That's going to be a reminder that they want to go swimming."

Families are encouraged to enroll before classes fill up for summer at the nearest Aqua-Tots. 

Dominique Newland on social media:Facebook | Twitter | Instagram  

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