It is important for kids to know how to swim, whether in a pool, lake or the ocean. While it seems safe for kids to swim in the shallow end of the pool or close to shore at the lake or ocean there are many things that often go wrong. A lesson almost every parent learns, in one situation or another, is that even only a few seconds is more than enough time for a child to suffer an accident.
A parent should never confuse swimming at a pool or even at the lake with swimming in the ocean. The ocean environment is dramatically more dangerous, regardless how far or how close from the shore the child may seem to be.
Even though the child may be a good pool swimmer, the parent must remember that the ocean may harbor jellyfish or other wildlife that can dramatically distract a swimmers attention from staying safe in the water.
Also, currents and tides, as well as sudden drop-offs or holes in the ground can put a swimmer in danger.
Educate children on:
In every 24 hour period two high tides and two low tides occur. The tidal schedule is listed online. Swim more safely when the ocean tides are low and the water is calmer. However, don’t allow young swimmers to play far offshore when the tides are changing from low to high as they can easily get trapped in rough water. The water becomes much rougher and winds are higher at high tide. It is dangerous to swim at this time especially because wildlife may also be stirred up and made more active because of the tide.
A riptide is like a strong pipeline of water rushing under the surface of the ocean between the shore and the open sea. It pulls swimmers underneath the water into the current and pushes them out to sea.
A child is in a dangerous riptide when he is swimming hard but not making progress, or when he is actually losing ground or having to fight to try to stay above water.
Whether adult or child, no one should exhaust themselves trying to swim out of a riptide. It simply doesn’t happen and a tired swimmer who tries will be weakened by his efforts and drown.
Instead, teach children to remain calm, float on their backs and ride the riptide out until its strength diminishes as the current encounters deeper water. The swimmer should then swim parallel to shore for 25 yards or so to get out of the way of the current and finally swim to the beach. The child should flip over on his back from time to time while swimming to rest as he is making his way to shore. More people drown because they simply tire out than from any other reason.