Water Safety: Lessons for Survival

Whether you're at the neighborhood pool, or enjoying a relaxing day at the beach, water safety is a must. Today we're exploring some tips on how to keep your children safe when around water. Plus, we'll learn more about a great app designed to reduce crime and protect families in your community.

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Alert ID Helps Keep Families Safe!

Hear our interview with Keli Wilson, creator of Alert ID. This FREE resource helps reduce crime and increase safety for families by information and public safety alerts from trusted sources including law enforcement, schools, neighbors, family members and friends. Register online now!

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Episode Transcript

Parent Savers
“Water Safety: Lessons For Survival:



Maria Bernal: Every day, children fall in the water by accident without proper supervision. In the US and Mexico, drowning is one of the leading causes of death for children four and under. Even children who are swimming in the pool with a parent present could get submerged underwater with a moment’s inattention.

What can parents do to keep their kids safe in the water? I’m Maria Bernal, Certified ISR Instructor, and today we’re talking about water safety basics. This is Parent Savers, Episode 50.


Johner Riehl: Welcome everybody to Parent Savers. We’re broadcasting from the Birth Education Center of San Diego. Parent Savers is you’re weekly online, on-the-go support group for parents of newborns, infants, and toddlers. I’m your host, Johner Riehl, and I want to say thanks to all our listeners who joined the Parent Savers Club! Our members get archived episodes, bonus content after each show, plus special giveaways and discounts. You can subscribe to our monthly Parent Savers newsletter for free for a chance to win a membership to our club each month.

And another way you can stay connected is by downloading our free Parent Savers app available in the Android and iTunes marketplace, and that gives you a chance to easily listen to all our podcasts on the go. So, as I said, my name’s Johner, I have three young boys; a six year old, a four year old, and a twenty-one month old-it’s to the point where I think I need to stop counting in months and say almost two year old. But I’m in the “Three Boys Club” and I’m joined here by some other parent panelists, as well as Maria.

Chelle Roman: Hi, I’m Chelle. I’m twenty-eight. I own The Swaddled Sprout, a natural parenting resource in San Diego. I have two boys; a two and a half year old and a fourteen month old.

Amy Ranallo: Hi, my name is Amy Ranallo, I’m thirty-four. I worked part-time outside the home for a financial institution and I have one daughter who’s seventeen months.

Amy Askin: Hi, I’m Amy Askin, and I am the mother of three little mermaids: Olivia who’s eight, and Serene who’s three, and El who’s a newborn.

Johner Riehl: And El is in the studio with us, today. So we may hear her chiming in as well from time to time. Maria, how about you?

Maria Bernal: I have a twenty-two month old; he’s going to turn two in June.

Johner Riehl: That’s when mine turns two, too. I think we’re in the same boat, where we need to start saying “He’s almost two.” Because it’s really-

Maria Bernal: I just want to keep him a baby still, I think.


Johner Riehl: Before we get in today’s topic, I am joined now by Kelly Wilson from Alert ID, and they make a great app that’s perfect for parents and families. So we’re going to learn a little bit more about it. Welcome Kelly!

Kelly Wilson: Thanks for having me.

Johner Riehl: So tell me a little bit about your app, it’s called Alert ID, and what lead you to create it?

Kelly Wilson: It originally started with a personal story; and I was in an amusement park in California with my three kids and my husband, and it was a very busy day, and we were separated from our kids for almost an hour. And any parent knows that panic, that terrifying feeling. So thankfully we were reunited with our kids, but at that time I didn’t have the necessary and updated information and photos and all that I really needed to be able to lead a search.

So that spurred on the idea of, “How can we help children or families with lost and missing children?” So that’s how Alert ID began, as a way to help lost a missing children by creating a way online for our families to store this information. Well, in speaking to law enforcement across the country, they said, “This is wonderful, it’s revolutionizing child safety. However, can we expand it to include not only children but families and communities and neighbors?” So we’ve been able to do that.

So we created Alert ID, which is a free online and mobile service, and it allows you to see what kinds of event are happening in your neighborhood; whether it’s the crimes, sex offenders-and neighbors can share information with each other, they can share suspicious information, we have a platform for public safety that people can communicate-a social network, if you will. And then we created an app, so you can take this information with you wherever you go, whether it’s-no matter what state you’re in-we’re in all fifty states.

So people can take the app and say, “Ok, I’m going to go to a different park or we’re travelling to a new area, how safe is the area?” So they can look at the app and see what sex offenders are near this park, and you know what? “I’m going to keep my eyes a little more open,” or “Maybe I’ll go somewhere else.”

Johner Riehl: Yeah, we went to a park the other day that was outside of our normal neighborhood, and I was surprised by how uneasy I felt being in a strange area, and not knowing what was around and being out of the bubble; and it sounds like Alert ID could really help me with that and get me to feel a little bit more comfortable with the area. Or less comfortable, if that’s the case.

Kelly Wilson: Well, you know we-and I agree with you, I think in this day and age information is truly power, and the more we know, the more that we can be empowered with information-know what’s happening-the better we can protect our kids and work together as a community to feel safer and to take care of our familes.

Johner Riehl: Ok, so how exactly does it work? You download the app-it is free, like you said-and then you also have to create an account? Then what happens from there?

Kelly Wilson: Well, it’s very easy. Again, as you mentioned, it’s free. You just go to alertid.com, it takes less than a minute to create an account, and all it will ask you for is your name; and it will ask for your address, but it’s all simply for geographic purposes. So it will pull up a map of your neighborhood-but you can include other neighborhoods as well; maybe your child’s school, your work, areas you visit, Grandma’s house-and you’ll be able to see what events are happening in that neighborhood with the map. You’ll also be able to receive e-mail and push notification alerts whenever something changes. For example, a sex offender moves into your neighborhood; you’re going to be notified. Anything in the sex offender database for your state; whenever anything changes, you’re notified as a member of Alert ID.

Johner Riehl: Yeah, and we’ve actually got a landing page, just for Parent Savers, The Boob Group, and Preggie Pals listeners; if you go to alertid.com/newmommy you can sign up there. Does it matter if you sign up first and then download the app? Or download the app and then sign up? Can you do it in either order?

Kelly Wilson: It doesn’t matter.

Johner Riehl: Ok. So is the information you’re getting through Alert ID, is that something that you guys are putting out there, or is coming straight from the source?

Kelly Wilson: It comes straight from the source; we tie it directly into the state sex offender databases, and it’s unfiltered. So whenever anything changes in a sex offender’s profile; their address, any physical traits-that change. That will just go directly to our members in an alert, and we also have crime information in many, many cities across the country, and same thing-we tie directly into their dispatch system so that that information goes directly to our members, to the citizens. You know, if there’s a burglary that happens down your street, you’re going to be notified. So, it’s unfiltered and we have a partnership with them and we’re tied directly to them.

Can I add one more thing that I wanted to share with families about the app?

Johner Riehl: Absolutely.

Kelly Wilson: Wonderful. It’s on our app and it’s called “My Family Wallet,” and for those of us that really want to be prepared about protecting our kids-and it kind of goes back to the origin of Alert ID-you can put on “My Family Wallet” your most updated photo, demographic information; height, weight, that kind of thing directly into the app on your smartphone. So that you are prepared in a case of being separated from your child, or if your child becomes lost or missing: because then you have the most updated information and law enforcement is so grateful to have that because 99% of the time families are prepared. So I encourage you to not only become a member of Alert ID and download the app, but be prepared with some updated information on your children-so that you are prepared and can be reunited with your child if you’re separated from them.

Johner Riehl: Great. Yeah, it’s a really cool ID, it’s amazing I think that it’s a free service; something I think that all parents and families should have, and I’m glad that we’re able to make them aware of it. Thanks for joining us, Kelly!

Kelly Wilson: Thanks so much for spreading the word and protecting families.


Johner Riehl: Thank you everyone for joining us. Today’s topic is water safety. So we have Maria Bernal, who is a Certified ISR Instructor. Or Maria Bernal [w/ Spanish Accent]-is that-?

Maria Bernal: Yes, that’s good. That’s good. [Laughter]

Johner Riehl: But I’m excited to talk about this. Because I know that with my three sons, we’ve done various swimming lessons with them, and something that they’ve been-grandparents especially are real nervous about them being out by the pool-and it’s something that I think all parents are really tuned in about with this topic. So I hope that we can have a really nice conversation about it.

So what age, Maria, do you think water safety applies to? And I guess where I’m coming from with this question is-how young are kids, or how old are they when they can reach the water? It’s pretty young, right?

Maria Bernal: Yes. So, water safety applies to every age, babies-from infants to adults even; adult have to be very safe in the water. Nobody is drownproof.

So children can reach the water right when they start crawling; so we need to be aware of all the water hazards our home imposes, even. Because we really never know when they start to crawl, so we need to be safe before that. Also, when children have little brothers in the house-even when they’re not crawling they can reach the water because they’re older brother may want to give them a bath, or-so actually water safety applies to all ages.

Johner Riehl: Yeah, even when they can’t even move-if there’s older siblings around, then-

Maria Bernal: Yes, exactly. Exactly.

Johner Riehl: That’s a good point.

Amy Askin: At what age, do you think, is a good time to start swimming lessons, or to introduce them to the water?

Maria Bernal: So, the perfect age to start swimming lessons is six months; and right when they start sitting down by themselves. That just makes the process a little bit faster because their muscles are strong enough. So they’ll complete the program faster. So right when they’re at six months they are neurologically ready to start swimming lessons.

Johner Riehl: That’s interesting, because I feel like-even with like water birth- you see that babies are ready for the water. I don’t know, like ready.

Amy Askin: My understanding is that it’s natural for them.

Maria Bernal: There’s a misconception-they really don’t-they don’t have a natural instinct to swim. It’s really-I’m not even sure where that came out to be.

Johner Riehl: Well, I think it’s the fact that maybe they’re in the water and they don’t drown. So we’re explaining what is it that we’re seeing with the kid?

Maria Bernal: They don’t start out breathing right when they are born; so that’s also misconception. But, they have no natural instinct of moving whatsoever. That is completely learned, like walking and like riding a bike.

Johner Riehl: So yeah. So it’s almost dangerous if people think then that it’s an instinct because-

Amy Askin: They think they can drop their three month old in the pool and walk away?

Johner Riehl: Not that anyone would walk away, but maybe they are being a little more-

Chelle Roman: I’m sure somebody’s done it somewhere in the world.

Amy Askin: We started swim lessons with our daughter-actually I was a certified Red Cross Instructor-and so I took her into the water at our community pool at six months, and she did really well. Then, by the time she was two and a half or three, she started getting a real fear of the water. We didn’t have the daily practice and things. We had the daily practice from six months to about a year and a half, so how does that happen? Where she get completely afraid and forgets everything?

Maria Bernal: So there’s a really big difference between being apprehensive of something-anything, not even the water-and fear. Fears are learned. So, if she had a fear of the water, she must have has a really bad experience with the water. Maybe somebody threw in the pool when she wasn’t expecting it; she was in a pool when it was really dark and she couldn’t see anything, so a really bad experience with her. If she didn’t, then maybe she was just apprehensive; it was something new. It’s a completely new environment, she feels buoyant, she’s wet; maybe she’s cold, maybe she’s too warm. So maybe that was just apprehension.

Amy Askin: Ok, and it was different because we took he in an ocean versus a pool, so I figured she was ok.

Maria Bernal: Oh, ok. Yeah.

Amy Askin: Very calm ocean; it was the Atlantic, it wasn’t here. [Laughter] It was nice eighty degree water-but I mean waves coming at you is a lot different than a confined swimming pool.

Johner Riehl: I get scared of the ocean, too.

Maria Bernal: Just because of how big it is!

Johner Riehl: I’m sure she’s seen the Octonauts or-well maybe not but-what’s in the ocean is scary.

Amy Askin: Yes, but she is precocious like that, that’s a good point.

Chelle Roman: Sand.

Maria Bernal: And she also-at two years of age you understand a little bit more about the world, you know you can fall; and if you were carrying her, and the waves were coming, and then the sand. Lots of variables.

Amy Askin: Good, because I thought I was a bad mom.

Maria Bernal: No, you’re not. [Laughter]

Chelle Roman: What is the AAP stance on water lessons for infants and toddlers?

Maria Bernal: So, until a couple of years ago-the AAP changed its stance on water safety lessons for infants and for toddlers. They used to not recommend lessons; but then after a lot of research and finding out that water lessons actually can save lives, and that getting children skilled has saved a lot of children’s lives-then now they have changed their stance and the allow, or better said, they recommend lessons for infants and for toddlers.

Amy Ranallo: And what age would they-do they have a recommendation for what age you should start or is it just based on the child?

Maria Bernal: It’s based a lot on the child, but six month is a great age to start just because you want them to be skilled by the time they’re mobile.

Amy Ranallo: Ok, and what can we expect from a six month old, or a one year old, or a two year old?

Maria Bernal: So, a six month old to a twelve month old-you can teach them how to roll over onto their backs and float. They can maintain that float for a couple of seconds or a couple of minutes; and that gives the parent or the caregiver precious time for them to find them in the water. And when they don’t feel that an adult is present, then they start crying a little bit or whining; and that is great because then the parent can hear them-that they’re in the water-and parents can also distinguish the cries and the whines from being in danger or being in the water or just from something else.

After twelve months, from twelve months to six year olds; then we can start teaching them our swim-float-swim sequence. What that is, is depending on their size and the strength of their muscles, they can swim a few feet, and then before they feel the need to breath, they roll over onto their backs, just like the infants-and then they rest, they breathe, they calm-and then they flip over again and continue swimming. They do this with their eyes open, and that allows them to find a safe place in the water or get completely out of the water.

Now, like a lot of cases when children get in the water by accident-in open water, let’s say the sea or a lake-then there’s no way out. There, they can maintain their float, again for a couple of seconds or couples of minutes or in some cases even a couple of hours.

Chelle Roman: Geez.

Maria Bernal: Ya, the record is four hours; a student that had been floating for four hours in open sea.

Amy Askin: Wow.

Johner Riehl: So we’ve kind of transitioned a little bit from talking about traditional swim lessons at the neighborhood pool, into-is this what ISR is?

Maria Bernal: Yes. That’s what Infant Swimming Resource teaches their students.

Johner Riehl: The idea being that, it’s not so much about going to the pool and having fun with your kids? It’s teaching them survival?

Maria Bernal: Exactly. Students do get to have fun, because they’re savvy. Their skilled, so they can get to enjoy the water. But we focus on safety, and on getting them saved in case of an accident.

Johner Riehl: Yeah. That’s amazing to hear about.

Chelle Roman: I’ve totally seen videos of it. It’s very cool.

Amy Ranallo: Yeah, I feel like it’s been going around online pretty recently, the first time I’d heard about the ISR is with the videos that I’ve seen online.

Maria Bernal: I’ve been doing this for five years; and every video, every student that floats-I get goosebumps still. Like, when will this be over? I guess never. When you see a student floating, and you know that he has a chance of surviving in case of an accident, it’s just amazing.

Johner Riehl: And, so parents, if they want to learn these techniques-you’re an ISR instructor, where can you find that? Is there a central website to find it?

Maria Bernal: There is, it is infantswim.com, and there’s an instructor locater in that homepage. We actually have instructors all over the world now, but we are always in need for more; you know, there’s a lot of children in the world that are at risk, and we’re always looking for more instructors.

Johner Riehl: We’ll make sure that that’s on this week’s episode page on the site as well. You mentioned other water sources earlier as well as dangers for kids. What are some other water sources, besides pools, and are there any survival techniques for them, too?

Maria Bernal: Thank you for that question, because it allows me to explain to parents that not only are pools a risk to children, but their homes as well. You need to be aware of all the risks that your home imposes. Children have drowned in toilets; they have drowned in sinks, in bathtubs, even in salsas. In like huge-

Johner Riehl: Like in a tub?

Maria Bernal: Tubs of salsas.

Amy Askin: Oh, my god.

Chelle Roman: Oh my gosh.

Johner Riehl: I was like, “Wait I thought she said salsa.”

Amy Ranallo: That sounds amazing. I mean the cauldron of salsa, not the baby drowning in it.

Chelle Roman: Oh my gosh, that’s crazy.

Johner Riehl: That is a surprise.

Maria Bernal: Yes. It’s extremely sad. Parents of toddlers should really be aware that they need to keep their home safe, and you do that by always keeping your bathtub completely free of water; emptying any pails that contain any type of liquid, not even water-but you shouldn’t soak clothes in water and leave it unattended; when your mopping, never leave that pail unattended; never leave a can; and never even leave toys that can catch rainwater outside-and then you just forget it- you know moms are so…we’re always just so busy and we can forget about things after a second. So we really need to focus on leaving everything without water; on that second.

Amy Askin: So, you always hear that statistic; a person can drown in x amount of water. What is it? Is it one inch? Is it-

Maria Bernal: It’s less than an inch.

Amy Askin: Oh my gosh.

Maria Bernal: It’s less than an inch because what if you’re child was getting in the bathtub that has just a very little amount of water? But he slips, he falls, he bumps his head; and he’s unconscious and he’s laying down. And also, children that can’t crawl or can’t roll over, and they fall down into muck or into something that contains a little bit of water; then he’s breathing in that water and their lungs are so small they drown in minutes.

Johner Riehl: We’ve got to take a quick break, on that note. But when we come back we’re going to talk some more about specific tips for water safety, including the “Five Keys For Water Safety” that Maria is going to tell us about.


Johner Riehl: Welcome Back. We’re talking about water safety basics with Maria Bernal. So let’s jump right back into our conversation: Maria I saw on your website and I think we’ve chatted briefly, but what are the “Five Keys” to water safety?

Maria Bernal: The first and most important one is Proper Adult Supervision, and I should say Responsible Adult Supervision. So children, like I said, are never drownproof. And the only thing that will keep them safe from drowning is adult supervision. That’s the number one. Number two is Gates. If you have a pool at home, you need to gate it. It’s more difficult for them to reach it, and it takes them more time to reach the water if the pool or the water feature is gated and doesn’t have easy access.

Johner Riehl: I know my in-laws-they have a portable fence where they don’t have to have it up when we’re not around. But then, when we come into town, it’s a really cool solution that I’ve seen where they can put up a fence that’s totally secure.

Maria Bernal: And it should be self-latching and more than four feet tall.

Johner Riehl: Yeah.

Maria Bernal: Never keep it open for any reason, especially when your kids are visiting.

Johner Riehl: Right.

Maria Bernal: Number Three, of course is getting them trained with swim skills. Especially ISR skills. The number four would be alarms. If you do have a pool, or if you do have a water feature, you need all the doors and any access-any access gates, any windows, any doggie door-to have alarms in case they open, they sound and then you can get to your child before he reaches the water.

Because children are very, very smart; you can never underestimate the power of a child’s mind, and if he wants to get in the water, he will get in the water. So you-and we can’t watch children 100% of the time, that’s just impossible. Even if number one is supervision, it’s just impossible. So we need to have gates, we need to have them take longer to reach that water; and if they do we need to have them skilled to survive it. And if they’re not, that leads me to number five: parents must learn CPR. It’s a must. If there was a license to parent, CPR would be number one on the list.

Chelle Roman: So what do you think about floatation devices? Like arm floaties or the floatation vests?

Maria Bernal: They are extremely, extremely dangerous. If you have any, or if you know a parent that does, please urge them to destroy them.
First of all, they create a false sense of security to the child. The child can’t make that connection that they are swimming or that they are floating with the help of the floatation device; and it also gives a false sense of security to the parent. If you’ve ever gone to public pool, you’re most likely going to see children that have arm floaties, or that have the swimsuits with the built in floatation devices; and your most likely going to see that the parent isn’t paying that much attention to the child.

Johner Riehl: Right, because they think they don’t have to.

Amy Ranallo: Because they think their child is safe.

Maria Bernal: Right, because they think-and you can’t rely on a thing to keep your child safe. That’s just-that’s just not safe. So the AAP and the Consumer Products Safety Commission doesn’t allow them either-it deters against them.

Chelle Roman: And I know that some of the public pools don’t allow them.

Maria Bernal: Well, they shouldn’t.

Chelle Roman: I know that some of the places that we’ve gone they don’t allow them.

Johner Riehl: They don’t allow them to do that.

Chelle Roman: Yeah.

Johner Riehl: That was definitely one of the surprising things-I think for us-as our first one was taking swim lessons and learning about it. Because I think as a non-parent, or kind of getting into it, you just assume-like that’s your image of a kid swimming.

Amy Ranallo: Yeah, you just think, “Oh, I’ll put the floaties on them. I’ll toss them in the pool; they’ll be fine with their friends.” You’ll be there, but that’ll be the backup.

Maria Bernal: Yeah, and unfortunately most of them don’t even work properly. Some of them will make the child swim with their head down.

Johner Riehl: Right. That’s what I get nervous about with floaties.

Maria Bernal: And some of them even get off of the child before they even get-I’ve seen videos.

Amy Ranallo: Yeah, if you don’t inflate them properly, or…
Maria Bernal: Or they’ll just deflate.

Johner Riehl: Like when one deflates?

Maria Bernal: Yes. However, we do recommend that if you are not planning on going in the water, but if you’re near the water-like a dock or a boat-adults and children alike should wear life vests, and they should be approved by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Johner Riehl: Isn’t there a law that kids under a certain age-

Amy Askin: On the boat.

Johner Riehl: On the boat? Only if you’re on the boat?

Amy Askin: Well, she’s even saying that if you’re on the dock or at the lake or something.

Maria Bernal: Unfortunately, there isn’t any law in place where the floatation devices have to go through; you know like cribs, that they have to go through a certain criteria for them to be able to sell them in stores? Well, not floaties or vests.

Johner Riehl: It just has to be foam in a bag that floats?

Maria Bernal: So, you do have to check your life vest before putting it on your child or yourself.

Amy Ranallo: Ok, that makes sense. What is the key to surviving an aquatic accident? What do you think the main key-just the swimming skills?

Maria Bernal: The key would be for the student to feel confident in his rollback to float. The child not only needs to learn to float, but he needs to feel confident that he can do it in any situation, and wearing anything. By the end of the ISR program, we teach our-we get our students in the water with regular clothes on; and they perform their skills first with summer clothes on, including diapers-if they’re still in it-shoes, anything they usually wear. And then the second day we get them in with winter clothes, because it can really change-

Amy Askin: It can weigh you down.

Maria Bernal: Yes, the added amount of weight is almost double their body weight; because their jeans, their shoes, their diaper is soaked in water-and it can really throw a child off for them not to be wearing their swimsuit. You know, they’re regular swimsuit; so they need to feel confident that they can perform those skills in any situation.

Amy Ranallo: That’s really good; I remember being young and taking swimming lessons and being asked to swim a distance that-I don’t know why, but I remember getting really freaked out. And, you sit up and you start panicking, and I remember the instructor just saying, “Roll over on your back and float.” And I kept thinking “But that’s not going to get me to the other side!” [Laughter]

But you know, I was like five; I was really small, and I remember rolling over and floating-and then them saying “OK, do you feel OK?” And I said, “Yes,” and they said, “OK. Swim.” And then I started swimming, and it wasn’t specifically ISR, but that’s something that over the years, if I was ever out in the ocean or anything where I did kind of get panicked- because I’m not the strongest swimmer- I would just say, “Well, at least I know I can float.” So, that’s something that’s stuck with me; just that one instructor taking that extra time to tell me that, and that gave me the confidence that, you know.

Maria Bernal: And it’s good that you were able to practice it; because verbal communication to a child is not as strong as muscle communication. So, you were able to feel that float and you were able to feel yourself float; if he would have just said it out of the water, then maybe if you were in an accident you wouldn’t have felt as confident because you never practiced it. And you know, even Michael Phelps needs to learn how to float; everybody will get tired eventually. So they key is their float and their confidence in their float.

Johner Riehl: So, as we wrap up the conversation; what are the most important things for parents to know about water safety either in the house or in the pool? And I remember-I think it was one of the first things you said that really stuck with me throughout this whole conversation-is that nobody is drownproof. Even at our age, or like you said, Michael Phelps. It can happen to anyone. So what do you think are some important takeaways? If you had two minutes to tell parents, here’s what they need to know.

Maria Bernal: Ok, I think the most important is floaties: never get you children used to floatation devices-that also keeps them in a vertical position when the safe one is the horizontal one. Get them into ISR lessons as soon as they turn six months of age. Keep all of your water features of your home gated. Keep every bucket, every pail, every sink, every bathtub-and get your older children involved as well, let them know that it’s not OK to get their little brother or little sister in the water without mommy. Never ever leave your child unattended in the bathtub for even less than a second. If you’re giving your child a bath, put away your phone, don’t answer the door, don’t go for a towel; don’t get anything, just watch them.

Johner Riehl: How old do you recommend parents do that through? For example, my six year old now; I’m pretty confident in his swimming abilities, so we might-hypothetically speaking-

Amy Askin: Let him take his own bath.

Johner Riehl: Yeah, or like he is really proud to start himself. Is this more for kind of toddlers, or-?

Maria Bernal: You know what? I would say it’s for everybody. I remember my mom when I was a teenager, she would always tell me “Do not lock the door of the bathroom! Because I need to know that you’re safe and in case of an accident, I need to get access to you.” So really-even adults-you need to be safe. Never close the door and let that heat or that vapor be in there, because then you can also faint. So again, not even adults are safe. So everybody needs to be aware.

And also before I forget, it’s very important: Don’t let your toddlers or children below thirteen years of age get into Jacuzzis or hot tubs. Those are extremely dangerous; they will lower your blood pressure and their blood pressure really quickly, and they can faint. Also, the bubbles and the jets make it really hard to see underwater. So it’s very dangerous for them; and they can even contract neurological damage or limb damage, because the water is just too hot-for pregnant women as well. It can be dangerous to the fetus. So just stay away from hot tubs. Not even if they’re cold; because then you’re letting them know that it’s ok for them to get into the hot tub. I get a lot of parents telling me, “Oh you know, we don’t keep it warm. So he can go in.” Well, yeah, but then you’re allowing them to get in the hot tub; so how is going to tell which one is OK and which one is not?

Johner Riehl: And it’s interesting, is it the warm water or some of the dangers with the hot tubs? Because what’s the difference between a bath and a hot tub when you have warm water?

Maria Bernal: Well, bathtubs are always extremely hot, even hotter than bathtubs.

Johner Riehl: Hot tubs?

Maria Bernal: Hot tubs, I’m sorry, hot tubs. And then also the jets and the water pressure, and the filtration; it’ll suck to in, and for little bodies it will be very hard for them to get detached from that. And like I said, the jets make it harder to see, so if your child is in the water, underwater, you won’t be able to detect them because of all that movement.

Johner Riehl: Yeah, hot tubs make me nervous. We-

Maria Bernal: And then they’re also very dirty, you know?

Johner Riehl: The foam, they think its bubbles like in a bubble bath? And that stuff is the gross stuff. [Laughter] They’re like, “Look! I’m Santa Claus!” and you’re like “Oooooh….”

Maria Bernal: It’s definitely a breeding ground for germs and all types of diseases.

Johner Riehl: Yeah, and those filtration systems, I remember hearing some bad stories about those growing up. Especially girls getting their hair caught and getting sucked down.

Amy Ranallo: Yes!

Chelle Roman: That’s one of my nightmares.

Amy Askin: I grew up with a pool, and that’s the thing. There’s a lot of hair in that filter.

Johner Riehl: Oh, wow. Right.

Amy Askin: Well, that’s because that’s-yeah, so you have to stay away from them. It’s very scary.

Maria Bernal: Yeah, and there’s a law now that helps that out but still-it’s still very dangerous.

Johner Riehl: All right. Well, there’s obviously a lot to talk about with water safety. We’ve talked about swim lessons, pools, this was hopefully a helpful conversation for our listeners; I know I enjoyed it here. We’re going to continue it a little bit after the show for our Parent Savers Club members: we’re going to talk a little bit about pool toys and maybe a little bit more about the salsa incident, because it’s fascinating. So thanks so much for joining us, Maria.

Maria Bernal: Thank you so much for having me, it was a great experience.


Johner Riehl: Before we wrap up today’s show, here’s blogger David Vienna sharing the realities of parenting from his blog The Daddy Complex.

David Vienna: Hi Parent Savers, this is The Daddy Complex. I’m David Vienna, father of twin boys; and if my experience has taught me anything about parenting, it’s that I know nothing about parenting. That vintage 1976 wool rug that you discovered at the thrift store-roll it up! That Limited Edition Army of Darkness figurine of Ash, complete with chainsaw hands? Pack it away! The antique chairs that your parents passed on to you in hopes that they would one day be passed on to their grandchildren? That succession stops with you, unless splintered chairs are the new trend.

Childproofing your home protects your kids, but I defy you to find a way to protect your home or anything else from your kids. Which is why it’s best if you just stop getting upset about damage done-and maybe, if something needs to get replaced, get the cheap version-it’ll get damaged again. Last year we purchased a new minivan. We love it! It makes it super easy to haul around two toddlers, a dog, and whatever groceries/luggage/jet pack prototypes we may have. And don’t get me started on the sounds system. Anyway, I don’t know when the title of “New Car” officially wears off, but the fit I’m about to relay happened at about the three-month mark. And three months is by no means old! It still had that “New Car” smell.

One holiday weekend as we drove north for a visit with the grandparents, our son Wyatt got a tickle in his throat, coughed twice, then projectile vomited a bottle’s worth of milk all over the back of the passenger’s seat and inside the door and the floor mats and his car seat- just all for a little turning of the knife? He wasn’t even sick! He just coughed too hard and then did an impression of a dairy fountain. So, just three months after we purchased the minivan, I had to shell out a chunk of change to have the thing detailed. But because I already accepted that everything we have is subject to destruction by the boys, I wasn’t upset. It’s just part of raising a toddler. Or in my case, two incredible destructive toddlers; there’s simply no way around it, your children will destroy stuff.

There are entire blogs dedicated to this truism. So getting mad about it proves about as useful and worthy as screaming at the moon. And once your tot shoves a peanut butter and jelly sandwich into your new Blu Ray player, if you don’t keep some perspective, you’ll go stark raving mad and do just that. Check out more of my terrible advice at thedaddycomplex.com, The Huffington Post, or on Twitter @thedaddycomplex. You can also view episodes of “Fighting with Babies-” my puppet web series for parents-at thedaddycomplex.com/fwb. And be sure to keep listening to Parent Savers for more fatherly tips.


Johner Riehl: That wraps it up for today. We appreciate you guys listening to Parent Savers. Thanks to everyone in the studio for joining us. Thanks to my wife for letting me come in and record these episodes, and watching the kids. Listeners: don’t forget to check out our sister show, Preggie Pals, for expecting parents; and our show The Boob Group for moms who are breastfeeding they’re babies still. On next week’s Parent Savers, we’re going to be talking about another interesting topic for parents that everyone’s kind of exposed to and that’s Tummy Time. This is Parent Savers: empowering new parents.

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