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Hartselle Enquirer

It's never too soon to start swim safety

By Staff
Michelle Blaylock, Mom's Corner
When I'm asked were we've lived, I always joke that I lived three years in exile known as northern Indiana. It's not that I didn't like the people, but I hated the climate. I thought I was going to freeze to death. The first winter we were up there it started snowing at Halloween!
That snow did melt. However, the next snow that came two weeks later didn't melt off. We didn't see the grass in our yard again until the end of March. Don't get me wrong, snow is great . . .within reason, but that was way beyond my reasoning powers. So when Hubby's job began to change and we knew it was time to look for a new one, he asked if I had any requests on where I would like to move. I looked at him like he was an idiot and said something to the effect of, "Well, duh, yeah, South!"
Actually, my fondness for the South isn't so much the Southern winters as much as the Southern summers. You see, I love to swim. I love the water. I think I could live at the pool; so could most of my kids. However, that brings up another situation–safety.
Pools can be dangerous. It's important to realize this and to train our kids to respect the water when they're young. I've also tried to teach my kids to swim early. I even start swimming lessons in the bathtub. For example, as soon as my babies were stable enough not to need the bath chair anymore, I got rid of it. I encouraged the kids to put their faces in the water, blow bubbles and float on their backs.
For the most part, swimming pool safety is a matter of common sense and teaching our children to be aware of the world around them. The old phrase "look before you leap" is very important when swimming and cannot be drilled into our kids enough. This is especially true at a public pool because it can be crowded at times.
Teaching our kids to listen to the lifeguards is important, too. I think sometimes it's hard for the kids to respect the opinion of the lifeguards because they are usually young, but they are still in a position of authority and should be shown the proper respect, even by adults.
It's also important for our children to be aware of how they feel. Until they are capable of monitoring their own bodies, as parents we need to watch them for the signs of being "too." Like too tired, too hot, too cold, too hungry, too full, etc.
I was asked last summer why I didn't put a lifejacket on one of my non-swimmers. Well, umm, because I want them to learn to swim. Now, before I get a ton of email, yes, I know you can learn to swim in a lifejacket or personal flotation device. However, I don't usually use one in a swimming pool. I feel like the lifejacket is a hindrance in a pool. However, lakes, rivers and streams are another story.
Pools are more of a controlled environment than a natural waterway. Natural waterways can have many hidden dangers that require a higher degree of safety, such as continuous wearing of lifejackets.
Now having said this about lifejackets, let me add this–my kids didn't try to go in over their head without me and they were quite content to splash around in the area they could touch. If you have a little daredevil that will jump in whether or not he or she can swim and whether or not you're there, then by all means put a lifejacket on that kid!
Remember, only you know your child and it's your job to keep them safe.
Last but definitely not least, don't forget the sunscreen. I personally hate sunscreen. I don't like the feel of it, but I don't want myself or my kids to be sunburned either.
In truth, sunscreen should be applied at least 30 minutes before you go to the pool for maximum efficiency. The better it absorbs into your skin the better protected you are.
If by some unfortunate chance you or your angel get a sunburn, try a milk bath. Yes, you read it correctly. I had a pediatrician in Kentucky share this one with me. Mix 1/2 milk with 1/2 water for a tepid solution. Soak a wash cloth in the milk solution. Squeeze out excess then gently lay over the sunburned area until you feel the heat of the sunburn soaking through the cloth. Repeat at least four to six times or as long as you want to (or however long you can hold your whiney, squirmy, sunburned child still). The pediatrician told me that the protein in the milk helps heal the damaged skin. It works!
If you have a question, tip, or suggestion for Mom's Corner, please send it to: Mom's Corner; P.O. Box 1496; Hartselle, AL 35640; or moms-corner@juno.com.

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