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The American Academy of Pediatrics has updated it's list of water safety guidelines. It includes swim lessons for children as young as 12 months.
Dr. Michael Macknin did not take part in the creation of the guidelines, but is a pediatrician at Cleveland Clinic and a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics section of injury and poison prevention.
"The American Academy of Pediatrics acknowledges that perhaps swimming lessons for children under age four may be of some benefit. Before, there was not much evidence and now there is some evidence that if younger children learn how to swim it makes them a little bit safer in the water. There's no doubt for children four and above that they should all have swim lessons and they should learn how to swim," says Dr. Macknin.
The guidelines also highlight new drowning risks, like large, inexpensive, portable and inflatable pools. AAP researchers say surrounding a pool with a fence cuts the drowning risk in half. But there are no laws requiring fences around the large inflatable pools, because they are considered portable. The AAP does not recommend formal swim lessons for children younger than one year of age, but supports swim lessons for every child four and up.
In the end, Dr. Macknin says your best defense against a child drowning is constant supervision.
"Don't let them near any kind of water, including a bathtub with one inch of water in it or a bucket with water in it. Even a five-gallon bucket can be a tremendous hazard for a young child. So, close supervision is absolutely key," says Dr. Macknin.
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