One of the things that attracts so many people to Florida and the St. Petersburg-Tampa area is our climate, and the ability to enjoy all that our wonderful state has to offer on an almost year round basis. When it’s hot in Florida there’s nothing we love more than taking a dip to cool off in the crystal clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico, one of St. Petersburg’s many community pools, or if we’re fortunate enough, a backyard pool.
But with the water being such a large part of our lifestyle here, there comes greater risk and a need to be water-safe.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for infants and young children. That’s a sobering statistic, but it can be reversed.
The St. Petersburg-Tampa area is fortunate to have numerous resources for teaching young children to swim or to simply stabilize themselves until help comes. This kind of training can be the difference between life and death, especially for our little loved ones.
There are many organizations in our area offering swimming lessons. The YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg has programs for infants and adults, as does the St. Petersburg Parks & Recreation Department, and there are others.
Consider The Infant Swim Rescue Program (ISR):
Another option, especially for teaching infants, is the Infant Swim Rescue (ISR) program started in 1966 by Dr. Harvey Barnett, PhD. Dr. Barnett, a behavioral scientist by training, witnessed the unfortunate aftermath of a nine-year old neighbor’s drowning, and created his program so that “not one more child drowns.”
ISR’s program is a one-on-one lesson approach where only the child and the instructor are in that water at a time. The program stresses competence, which leads to confidence on the part of the child around the water.
For children ages 6-months to a year, ISR’s Self-Rescue skills teach kids to roll onto their back, float, rest and breath until help arrives. For children ages one to six years, ISR’s program teaches them a sequence of swimming, rotating onto their back to float when they need air, then rolling back onto their front to continue swimming until they can reach the pool’s steps, the side or the shoreline, and for as long as is necessary.
ISR, like all organizations offering swimming lessons to young children, stresses the need for pool fences, close, uninterrupted adult supervision, and pool and door alarms to keep kids safe. But as the last line of defense, they stress the need for little ones to learn skills necessary to be able to save themselves if they find themselves in the water alone.
ISR’s website can be found at www.infantswim.com and contains a valuable, downloadable Family Aquatic Safety List that provides important information for parents seeking to keep their children as safe as possible in or near the water. We recommend you download the list and review it.
There’s no value we can place on the lives of our children. Please take a proactive approach, and make sure your children, regardless of age, are prepared to take care of themselves in or near the water.