Summer’s practically here. School’s out, and the heat is on. That means the kids, and us adults, are going to want to get wet — at the beach, the pool, the water park, the lake, the river, or even with a garden hose and a bucket. That also means there’s a danger of drowning, especially if kids don’t know how to swim. Water Safety should be at the top of everyone’s mind at this time of year.
- water doesn’t have to be deep to be dangerous
- never leave kids unattended around water
Teach Kids to Swim. It’s a great idea to channel your child’s natural inclination to get in the water by giving them swim lessons. They get wet and cool, and you get the peace of mind knowing that they have the swimming skills to keep them safe. Even very young children can benefit from swim lessons.
Secure Your Pool. If you have a pool, and kids have access to it, you should have a secured fence around it, so little ones won’t wander near and fall in by accident. Keep toys stowed away that might attract little tikes out to the pool. And keep furniture and other items kids could use to climb over the fence away from the barrier so that little ones can’t get into the pool without you knowing about it. Some folks even install door alarms that beep when someone opens the door out to the pool area.
Maintain Constant Supervision. If you go to a pool party with children, make sure there is someone — preferably a lifeguard — watching those kids like a hawk. We adults can’t really be trusted in a social situation to maintain our vigilance at all times when children are in the water. Just as we designate a driver when we go out, we should also designate, or hire, a lifeguard at a pool party, or watch the swimmers in shifts.
Use the Buddy System. You’re never old enough to swim alone. When in the water, swim with a buddy … and look out for each other.
Drowning is usually silent. It’s not like in the movies when an actor whose pretending to be drowning thrashes and splashes, screams and sputters. Most kids drown without a sound, quietly slipping below the surface un-noticed, especially in a crowded pool or shoreline.
Learn CPR, just in case. You can save a life by keeping a drowning victim’s blood pumping long enough for First Responders to arrive. There are many CPR training options out there. And, even children can learn “Hands-Only” CPR.
Boating Safely. If your adventures take you boating, make sure there are enough life jackets for everyone aboard, and that they come in the proper sizes for children and adults. Children should wear life jackets at all times while on a boat. Adults should, at the very least, know where they are stored, and be prepared to don them if the going gets tough.
At the Beach. Ocean water can be unpredictable. Changing tides, sudden big waves, and rip currents can challenge even the most experienced swimmer. Try to always swim in areas watched over by lifeguards. Check in with lifeguards to let them know where you plan to frolic, and ask about any current conditions that could be dangerous. Never turn your back on the ocean when playing along the shore, a sudden swell can easily knock you over and carry you out to sea. And, always remember, when you enter the ocean, you are entering the food chain.
Reach Out or Throw … Don’t Go! Unless you have Lifeguard training, never jump in the water to save a swimmer in trouble. Throw them a flotation device that they can grab ahold of, or reach out to them. If you go in after a struggling swimmer, you may end up a victim as well. The mantra is “Reach Out or Throw … Don’t Go!”
Being in and around the water is one of the joys of the warm months. Take the steps to ensure that everyone has the best chance to stay safe while enjoying the water.