Remember water safety over Labor Day Weekend

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Labor Day is one of the busiest beach, pool and boating weekends of the year, and with recent drownings in Lake Michigan, it's more important than ever to be vigilant in and around the water.

Steve Karapetian owns Goldfish Swim School in Chicago, and says it is essential for families to take swim lessons and practice water safety.

"Drowning can be silent and quick, and it kills nearly 1,000 children every year. Drowning is the single leading cause of injury-related death among children ages 1 to 4. Many of these deaths occur when children are not expected to be swimming or when they have unanticipated access to water," Karapetian said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends swim lessons starting at age 1 to keep kids safe. It's important to get kids familiar in and around pools from an early age, Karapetian said.

Here are some water safety tips to keep in mind:

Any time kids are around water, designate a "water guardian" who will avoid cell phones, conversations, magazines and anything else that might distract the adult from watching children every single second. Note that most children who drown are supervised.

Adults should practice "touch supervision" for young swimmers and keep them within an arm's reach at all times.

RELATED: Lake Michigan drowning, water rescues renew calls for life rings along Chicago beaches

Realize that floaties, noodles and plastic inner tubes do not protect against drowning. They are water toys, not life-saving devices. U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets should be worn.

Enroll children in high quality swim lessons where kids will focus on mastering "water competency skills" -- a few lessons here and there are not enough. Even though summer is over, kids should continue with swim lessons into the fall and winter months to maintain the progress that they have made.

Make sure that there are "layers of protection" between a child and a body of water. Many drownings occur during "non-swimming" times when a child has accessed water without supervision. Locks, fences, gates, etc. are critical.

Kids can practice three basic water safety skills that include a skill to help exit and enter pools safely called Fin, Fin, Belly, Flipper!

Let your child jump off the side of the pool, help them physically turn back to the wall and then assist them in getting out of the pool by using the Fin, Fin, Belly, Flipper method. This teaches kids how to automatically turn back to the wall behind them to climb out. If a child were to fall into a pool, this skill could help them find the quickest way to safety.

Sea Otter Float: work with your child on turning over and getting their faces out of the water to take a breath when he or she fatigues.
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