This Is Your Summer Safety Reminder

I’m sure you can relate to those scary parenting moments where your child, albeit small or big, does something dangerous that results in a heart-stopping, gut-wrenching parenthood paralysis. This weekend I had a scare and I wanted to share and appeal for more vigilance and victories.

Every summer I am struck by the stories of drowning or water-related injuries with children. As a parent, it’s my intent to keep my children safe. I do my best daily to be aware and involved in their activities, especially near the water. Last summer I wept as Bode Miller and his wife bravely shared the story of their daughter’s drowning, and this summer I’ve grieved for Granger Smith as he opened up about the loss of 3-year-old son. It’s the unthinkable and yet it’s a reality for many…drowning can happen in an instant.

My 2-year-old has no fear. She’ll walk into water unaware of temperatures, unafraid of depth or tides, and eager to experience the fun of floating. At pools like the Madison baby pool, I breathe easier. She can splash and saunter around while a lifeguard and increased parental presence gifts me greater comfort. But at the beach or in backyard pools, I am unnerved. And despite an age appropriate life vest, I am quick to remind myself that eyes and intuition are the anchors for awareness.

This past weekend we went to my sister-in-law’s to swim. Our youngest swam alongside her sister and dad, which produced joyful giggles and sweet squeals. Forty minutes into her swim she started to struggle. My husband and I quickly realized she had somehow managed to free herself from her life vest. She had gone under. I watched the event unfold in its entirety.

My high pitched scream, his quick jump in (he was standing poolside at this point), and her stunned silence are burned into memory.

Let me begin by saying she’s fine. She was smiling twenty seconds after the incident. If anything, she was terrified of my reaction rather than the episode itself. But I was shook. I was so upset by the mere thought of what might have happened if my eyes hadn’t been on her. I have no clue what went wrong with the life vest. She was double checked before entering the pool and it was tight and secure. Did she learn to unzip and wiggle it off? Did it defect? I don’t know. I had major parent guilt for a few hours. My eyes had followed her in the pool and my eyes never left the water. But she had left the water for a few minutes. Is that when she freed herself from the life vest’s restraint? I don’t know. I just know that when there’s a pool I usually stare into it and all the children nearby. Because the pool, for all of its fun and floating, is a dangerous place.

We’re all fine. The kids went right back to being kids, but I’m a few grays hairs in because of the incident. Stories stick with us. The accidents of others have left an impression upon me. So in these dog days of summer as we wade in the water, let this be a safety reminder for us all.

Stay safe, friends.