WATER SAFETY 101: 3 mistakes parents make with young kids - KMSP-TV

WATER SAFETY 101: 3 mistakes parents make with young kids

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Few things are more fun than spending an afternoon at the pool with a little one, but what many see as harmless play could actually put children at a bigger risk around water.

INVESTIGATORS: Drowning is silent

Kelcey Carlson and her 3-year-old, Kellen, spent some time at Foss Swim School to learn what not to do.


Jon Foss warns that those who catch their children and keep their head above water can run the risk of delaying the child's understanding that there are consequences to going under water.

"They have removed the fear of jumping in the water because someone is always going to catch them," Foss explained. "They don't understand that when they go in the water, they are going to go under the water, and that is the natural consequence."

According to Foss, it's fine to let children jump into the water, but he says that instead of catching and lifting them out, caregivers should let the kids get their faces wet and direct them back to the side of the pool. That way, it will instill the reflex of turning around and going back to the wall -- a skill that could one day save lives.


Allowing children to move around the pool in so-called "floaties" can be dangerous because Foss says a child that is tooling around in deep water even though he or she shouldn't be could become desensitized to the dangers of a drowning situation.

"Our rule is that we don't put a floatie -- strap a floatie on a child -- until they can put their face in he water," he recommended. "A child has to swim with their face in the water. Their hands are too small, their feet are too small, and their head is too large proportionally to tread water. They can't do it."


A few inches can make a big difference on shorter bodies, and children can easily fall into deeper water than they can safely navigate.

"You can turn the hot tub into a sandbox -- a fun place -- and then there's this hole in the middle," John Foss explained. "If they don't know how to swim, they are going to look up and sink down where kids can drown in a couple of feet of water."

Foss advocates for teaching children inches away from where drowning hazards like steps are to explain how a drop-off can become a drowning hazard.

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