When we think about spending time in the water, we think about some of our favorite memories, especially as kids! Time spent out on the boat, splashing around in the pool, hanging out in the sun, and the best night’s sleep ever afterwards! Because we think of water as such a fun addition to our summer activities, we don’t always think about just how dangerous it can be, especially for little ones that don’t yet know how to swim.

As we head into summer swimming, it’s important to remember how we can help our kiddos be safer in and around the water!

Q: Should I keep my child away from the water if they don’t know how to swim independently?

A: Little ones that haven’t mastered their swim skills yet deserve to have fun in the sun, too! It may seem a bit scary to let kiddos that don’t know how to swim alone get into the water this summer, but being prepared and having the right tools to be safe can make all of the difference!

Pool time is a golden opportunity to practice their swim skills and continue to get comfortable in the water. We ALWAYS recommend close supervision – stay within arms reach! And in open waters, Coast Guard – Approved Life Jackets help keep everyone safer. And be sure to review the rules before getting in the water – reminding kiddos to NOT enter the water without you or another Safer Swimmer Guard with them and staying within certain boundaries.

Have you kiddos take the Safer Swimmer Pledge so that the water safety must-knows are top of mind, and if you know you have a vacay coming up, ask your local Goldfish Swim School if they’re hosting Jump Start Clinics – a fintastic opportunity to jump start your kiddos water safety skills, seeing one month of progress in just one week!

Q: So, what’s the deal with floaties? Are they the best option for my kiddo?

A: Unfortunately, no! Arm floaties (also called water wings, puddle jumpers or arm bands) are a popular add-on to kiddo’s summer pool gear, probably because we see them everywhere! Stores stock their shelves with beach towels, goggles, and front and center – arm floaties! Though the price tag, fun colors and convenience may be tempting, these are not the safest option for little ones that are eager to hop into the water. Not only do these arm floaties promote an upright, vertical position that is less than ideal for kiddos to swim in, but they also make it hard for kiddos to move around and promote an overconfidence in the water – for kids and parents.

It’s important to remember that inflatables are toys, not safety devices! Think of it like a balloon – they look cute and add a fun twist to a party, but after a little while they start to lose air and aren’t upright anymore. This is exactly what can happen to these arm floaties! What can inflate, can deflate!

Q: If floaties aren’t the best option for my child, what are some other options to keep my little one safe?

A: The safest floatation device option for little ones is a Coast-Guard approved life-jacket. It’s important to make sure these life-jackets fit well, and that they are in fact Coast-Guard approved – not all life-jackets are! These floatation devices promote correct positioning in the water and allow kiddos to float, with their head above water, without the risk of deflation.

You also want to be sure there is a Safer Swimmer Guard, or Water Watcher, present, someone designated to watch kids the entire time they’re in the water. This person should be committed to being fully focused on the water, and not be distracted by other things like cell phones, conversations with others, etc. and should be swapped out every 30 minutes to assure your Safer Swimmer Guard is fresh and alert!

Q: How can I prep for summer vacation to be sure my kiddo is as safe as can be?

A: Our 2023 study showed that 57% of families are planning to take a summer vacation this year – but only 33% of them feel confident in their child’s ability to swim. Anything less than 100% means there’s room to educate and spread awareness about water safety!

Preparing for a vacation can be overwhelming, but having a solid plan to keep your little one safe around the water can help plans fall into place, and a packing list come together in minutes!

After you’ve packed your kiddo a life-jacket, remember to stick a bright-colored swimsuit into the suitcase! Blue and green swimsuits can blend in with the water, making it harder to spot kiddos as they splash around. Grab something in another bright color (neon is totally in this year!) to make sure you can find them quickly and keep a close eye on them.

If you’re staying at a vacation home with a pool, be sure to check the area for door alarms and locks upon arriving, and confirm that no pool toys are stored in the water. Be sure to review the pool rules often, and to always lock the doors and remove any furniture – beach chairs, tables, etc… – that can make the pool accessible – after using the pool.

Finally, always make sure to have the address of where you’re staying written down in a clearly visible spot in case of an emergency, and it’s always a good idea to brush up on CPR skills,

Q: What more can I do to help my kiddo be safer this summer?

A: The number one way to ensure kids are safer in and around the water is to get them into formal swim lessons. It’s a proven fact the swim lessons save lives, as they can help decrease the risk of drowning by up to 88%! As you put together your summer calendar, be sure weekly swim lessons make the cut, maybe even a Jump Start Clinic or two!

One final way to prep for a safer summer is for your entire family to take our Safer Swimmer Pledge! The pledge is perfect for new swimmers, or for those who have been swimming for years, as it refreshes our memory on what’s important and what to keep in mind while we spend our days by the water. When you take the pledge, you’ll also be entered to win some FINtastic prizes, like free swim lessons, swag, and even a summer vacation – on us!