With the end of the school year, the beginning of summer, and steadily rising temperatures, many kids take to pools, beaches, lakes, and ponds to cool off and have some fun. Swimming and playing in the water can be lots of fun but can also be dangerous for children when the proper precautions are not taken to keep them safe. The second leading cause of accidental death is drowning for people between the ages of five and twenty four. While water can be dangerous, the good news is that there are many different ways to keep kids safe while still allowing them to have fun in the water.
The Importance of Supervision
When kids are in the water, whether in a pool, bathtub, or somewhere else, they should be under constant supervision. Even if lifeguards are present at the beach or pool, you should still keep a close eye on your children. For younger children, it is best to stay within arm's reach of them when they are in the water to avoid any distractions or accidents. Equally as important as supervising children in the water is preventing access to water that is unsupervised. Barriers should be installed around home swimming pools and hot tubs. Pool alarms and safety covers are also available and can be added as an additional layer of protection. It is important to make sure barriers enclose the entire pool or hot tub and are at least four feet tall. Latches should be high enough that children cannot reach them. Keeping pool toys out of the pool when not in use is also a good idea. These toys have a tendency to attract young kids to the pool, and keeping them out of sight can help to keep young children away.
Consider Swimming Lessons
If you have a pool or spend a lot of time at the beach, it may be a good idea to look into swimming lessons for your child. It is actually a good idea for the entire family to take swimming lessons to learn how to become strong swimmers. There are many places that offer swimming lessons including most YMCA locations. The Red Cross also offers learn to swim and water orientation classes.
What to do in an Emergency Situation
Practicing water safety can greatly cut down on the chances of an accident but even with safety measures in place, accidents can still happen. For people that live in a home with a pool in the yard, it is important to have proper pool equipment in the event of an emergency. This includes throwing or reaching equipment, life jackets, easy access to a phone (in case 911 needs to be called), and a first aid kit. It can also be beneficial for parents and other caregivers to take a CPR course as a working knowledge of CPR can be a live saver in countless situations.
General Water Safety Tips
- When in a public swimming area, only swim in areas that have been designated by lifeguards.
- Establish a set of family rules for swimming and make sure that the rules are strictly enforced.
- Use caution around natural bodies of water, even if not planning on swimming. Currents, cold temperatures, and unseen underwater hazards can all be dangerous were someone to fall in such water.
- If going out on a boat, always wear a life jacket.
- Use a buddy system when swimming so kids are never in the water by themselves.
- Younger children and those that are not yet strong swimmers should wear life jackets approved by the US Coast Guard.
- Teach kids that they must ask permission before going near any body of water.
- Never, ever leave children unattended near water.
More Water Safety References:
- Take Steps to Stay Safe Around Water
- The Great Outdoors - Water Safety for Parents
- Water and Drowning - Water Safety at Home
- Pool Safely - Simple Steps Save Lives
- Water Safety and Young Children
- Drowning - It Can Happen in an Instant
- Family Sun and Water Safety Tips
- Water Safety and Drowning Prevention for All Ages
- Water Related Injuries Fact Sheet
- Drowning Prevention and Water Safety, Children Ages Birth to 19 Years
- Recreational Water Safety Basics
- Swimming and Water Safety Skills Chart
- Summer Safety for Kids
- Selecting a Life Jacket for Your Child
- Choosing a Personal Flotation Device for Your Child
- Playground and Water Safety Guidelines
- Keep Kids Safe in the Water
- Teaching Kids the Basics of Safe Boating
- American Boating Association - Safety Information
- Water Safety for Parents
- Teaching Children to Swim
Find more about the author: Kim Hart