The Pool & Hot Tub Alliance (PHTA) and its Step Into Swim initiative have released the results of its national survey about swimming safety concerns and share tips for keeping kids safer in the water. With drowning as the leading cause of death among children ages 1 to 4, these efforts underscore the importance of swimming education, instilling confidence in young swimmers and empowering parents to foster safe practices in the water.
The survey was conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of PHTA among 606 parents of kids 14 and under and showed that parents are concerned about their children’s safety and swimming abilities in the pool.
According to the survey, 83 percent of parents who have kids ages 14 and under are confident in their child's ability to be safe in the water, yet 65 percent say they are concerned about their child drowning in a pool. Despite these concerns, only 54 percent plan to enroll their child in formal swimming lessons this year.
Other key survey findings show that among parents who have a child ages 14 or under:
• 81 percent of parents said they and their family have access to a pool, most commonly a community or public swimming pool.
• 46 percent of parents do not plan to enroll their child in formal swimming lessons this year, with 19 percent saying they have no plans to do so even though their child has never had formal swimming lessons.
• Less than half of parents (48 percent) are confident in their own swimming abilities; only 33 percent have had formal swimming lessons; and just one quarter (25 percent) are CPR certified.
• Dads (92 percent) are significantly more likely than moms (74 percent) to have confidence in their child’s ability to be safe in the water, and they are also more likely than moms to say they plan to enroll their child in formal swimming lessons this year (62 percent vs. 45 percent respectively).
Understanding the data around parental perceptions and concerns about swimming safety reinforces the need for swimming lessons as a lifesaving skill, especially with rising drowning rates.
There are best practices parents can follow to help keep their children safe in the water, such as:
• Enroll your child in swimming lessons. Learning to swim from a qualified instructor reduces the risk of drowning by 88 percent among children ages 1 – 4.
• Enact multiple layers of protection, including pool covers, fencing, locked doors, and safety alarms.
• Keep toys away from water, as these can be distractions for young children and cause an accidental fall.
• Designate a water watcher to keep a close eye on children. Assign adults to take supervision shifts, which may help minimize distractions.
• Only practice safe swimming behaviors, such as entering the pool feet first and walking instead of running. Children should not engage in extended breath-holding activities underwater, as these types of games are dangerous.
The survey results were released in recognition of National Water Safety Month, a timely opportunity to ensure parents have the tools and swimming safety tips they need to have a safe summer in the water with their families. And while the start to summer is an exciting time for all, Step Into Swim, and its major founding partner Every Child A Swimmer, is committed to swimming safety year-round.
“As part of our efforts to create more swimmers, Step Into Swim is focused on sharing essential swimming education resources and funding learn-to-swim programs during National Water Safety Month and beyond,” said Sabeena Hickman, President and CEO of PHTA. “We are proud to work with key partners and advocates across the country who support Step Into Swim’s mission and want to create safer opportunities for the next generation of swimmers.”
For safety tips and resources, visit www.StepIntoSwim.org.