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Water Safety Smarts

As the weather gets warmer, your toddler is apt to spend more time outdoors and near water. Water poses an especially grave menace to your child. Children this age can drown in just a few inches of water.

If your neighbor has a pool, be sure that it's fenced in and that the gate is kept securely locked. With a pool at your own or a relative's house, take extra precautions. Consider buying a floating alarm device that sounds when anything falls into the water; keep a safety ring with a rope attached to it by the pool; and, if possible, have a telephone nearby with a list of emergency numbers. Don't allow these measures to lull you into a false sense of security, however; constant supervision is essential.

And never leave water in open containers, such as the bucket you've used to wash your car or your child's plastic wading pool. Most 2-year-olds think water is more fun to play with than any item on the shelves of Toys "R" Us. Some innocent exploration could lead to a serious accident.

You may want to enroll your toddler in a "water baby" class. That's okay, but view it only as a fun, shared activity with Mom or Dad. Your 2- or even 3-year-old probably won't learn to swim yet, let alone be water safe, as a result of these classes.

One potential drawback to enrolling your toddler in such a class: If he feels pushed to swim before he's ready, he might develop a fear of the water. On the other hand, though, he may be more comfortable with true swimming lessons later (usually by age 4) if he's introduced to the idea in a gentle, nonthreatening way now. He will probably learn to love the water and not want to get out of it for anything.

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All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.