Water Safety Club Helps Parents Lifeguard Their Child
The Water Safety Club exists to generate awareness and ongoing conversations about water safety and how to prevent drowning.
By Ashley Antle
Violet Gomez admits she didn’t know much about water safety and drowning prevention when she had her first child nine years ago. It wasn’t until after the birth of her second child that she began to take the dangers of water seriously, thanks to a Cook Children’s Health Care System program she joined called the Water Safety Club.
“I never knew safety precautions and the steps to introduce my first son to water,” Gomez said. “I would just say, ‘Oh, he'll be fine.’ I would never really take him to a pool. So I really didn’t know what kind of safety steps I would have to take.”
The Water Safety Club is a drowning prevention program of Safe Kids North Texas - Fort Worth, led by Cook Children’s. It’s open to all and free to join.
Now a mother of four, Gomez was introduced to the Water Safety Club through her kids’ Head Start program with Child Care Associates, a community partner of Safe Kids North Texas - Fort Worth. During a Head Start meeting that Gomez attended, a Safe Kids North Texas - Fort Worth representative talked about the club, the importance of water safety and how to prevent drowning.
After the presentation, Gomez signed up to learn more about how to keep her kids safe in and around water. She shared what she learned with her children and says they are now as aware of water dangers as their mother.
“For me, it's helped so much, and it's helped my son because he didn’t know at a younger age,” Gomez said. “I learned myself to be able to teach them what safety steps they have to do before even going in the water. I have learned how to introduce them to the pool.”
The club exists to generate awareness and ongoing conversations about water safety and how to prevent drowning.
“We want to make sure children are educated, and that parents are talking to their kids about having a healthy fear and an awareness of the water,” said Jillian Mitchell, a community health specialist at Cook Children’s. “Because if we're not talking about it, then kids don't understand what's OK and what's not OK”
Drownings are the No. 1 cause of death in children ages 1 to 4. Already this year, more than 50 children have been treated at Cook Children’s for drowning injuries. This is a significantly higher number than in recent past years during the same time period.
“Not all drowning incidents are fatal, but non-fatal incidents can also be devastating,” Mitchell said. “That's why we want to have these conversations over and over to help build awareness.”
Community partnerships, like the one with Child Care Associates, help spread the message of the Water Safety Club and provide membership access. Currently, there are about 2,000 members and some from as far away as Alabama.
In addition to education and information, Water Safety Club members also gain access to free or reduced-cost safety resources such as life jackets, bathtub kneelers, swim goggles, water safety lessons and CPR instruction. For her membership, Gomez received free life jackets for her children.
“Whenever we have gone to any pool I tell them to make sure you put your life jacket on first,” Gomez said. “They're like, ‘Can I go in the water? I'm just gonna put my legs in there.’ I'm like, ‘Nope. If your legs are in, you have to put on your life jacket because you don't know what can happen.’”
Gomez says she’ll continue to teach her children what she learns as a club member. She also encourages her family members and friends to join.
“I find it amazing because they've learned so much, and I want them to continue to learn so much,” she said. ‘I have invited other moms, friends of my daughter and my sons. I'm like, ‘Hey, you should learn more about this program. It helps you know what to do in case something happens or how to prepare before even taking your children to the pool.’”
Joining the Water Safety Club is easy. Click here to become a member, to view current membership incentives, to identify community partners, and to learn more about how to lifeguard your child.
Lifeguard Your Child began in 2016 and continues its regional collaboration, led by Cook Children’s, to prevent drownings in North Texas. The campaign aligns consistent messages and educational goals across our region. Together with community partners across 11 counties, we work year-round to provide education, Water Watcher tags, swim lessons, life jackets and other prevention tools to families.
The Lifeguard Your Child campaign is spread through the Safe Kids North Texas Coalition, which is based in Fort Worth and led by Cook Children’s.
The campaign’s strategies include Cook Children’s Loaner Life Jacket Stations at many lake entry points across the region. Families can go to the stations to find U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets in a variety of sizes with easy tips for a proper fit.
Safety tips for home swimming pools:
- Assign a water watcher, aka an adult who will commit to 100% supervision of children in and around water.
- Restrict access by installing door locks high out of children’s reach. Door and window alarms can signal if someone leaves the house.
- Install four-sided fencing around pools with a self-latching gate that only opens out. The fence should be at least 4 feet (preferably 5 feet) high.
- Remove all toys and floats from the pool area so children are not tempted to get close to the water.
- For above-ground pools, make sure the ladder is removed and not accessible when it’s not swimming time.
- Consider a pool surface alarm to alert if anyone/anything falls into the water.
Safety tips for the bathtub:
- An adult must stay at the side of the tub in reach of the child.
- Pay attention. This is not the time for multitasking.
- Ignore distractions like the doorbell or phone calls.
- Drain the tub after each use.