What are we most afraid of as parents?  Are we protecting our kids from the wrong dangers?

As new parents, we quickly learn a laundry list of preventative measures to keep our children safe. We are shoveled information from friends, our parents, the internet–everyone has opinions on what we should focus on to keep our little ones safe.  Here are a few popular topics that we see come up in mom’s groups, magazine articles, and pediatrician circles.

  • How to install a car seat and buckle kids in the correct way
  • Cover the electrical outlets
  • Cut grapes into smaller pieces and monitor their eating to prevent choking
  • Lock up any firearms that may be in the house
  • Keep sharp objects away from children
  • Have a fire safety plan and ensure our smoke alarms are working
  • Make sure cleaning products and chemicals are not accessible
  • Keep medicine and pills out of reach

It’s overwhelming, isn’t it? It is scary to imagine all of the dangers in the world and to be afraid that we are focusing on the wrong things in order to fully protect our families.  We never want to promote fear, but we do want to make sure that our respect and energy are focused on the right things within our community.  Growing up, I was sure that I would have to escape fires multiple times in my lifetime based on how many times ‘Stop, Drop, and Roll’ was discussed at school!  And as it should be, fire safety is important as are all of these things on this list.  

But do you see what is missing? Sometimes we are fed so much information we can get lost in all of it.  Water Safety is left out of the conversation all too often and it’s not because it’s less dangerous than any of the other hazards.  In fact it’s more dangerous.  By a lot.  The truth is, drowning takes the lives of more children under 5 than any other cause of accidental death.  Drowning is the MOST dangerous thing children face.  If a child is never able to experience their first day of school or play tee ball, it is drowning that is the most likely to be the reason.

That’s hard to think about and the purpose is truly not to spread fear, but to raise awareness and help parents understand exactly how critical Water Safety is.  We spend so much time on vehicle safety, but drowning is 50% more deadly to children ages 1-4 than vehicle accidents. Everyone knows stop, drop, and roll, but drowning is 260% more deadly than fire.  In fact, drowning takes more lives in this age range than all of the remainder of the hazards combined in this 2018 CDC report

It’s time to broaden the conversation.  All of those other dangers should still be discussed, but please stop leaving Water Safety off of the list.  Talk to your family, talk to your friends, and talk to your pediatricians. The first step to solving a problem is recognizing that there is one and there are so many people that don’t  know.  There are so several layers of protection and swim lessons are such an integral part of that, but we encourage you to learn more and dive deeper into this topic by reading about the Armor of Drowning Prevention: 5 Steps to Save Your Child’s Life. We have to raise awareness and we have to share information on how to protect our families and communities from this danger.

Written by Brian Bachman, General Manager at Oklahoma Swim Academy