As the mercury rises, you, and your young children, are more than ready hit the beach, splash in the pool, or drive out to the nearest lake or pond for some hot weather relief. Water safety is crucial this time of year. Nearly 1000 young children die each year due to drowning. Keep our tips in mind and enjoy a refreshing, and safe, summer.
1. Keep a close eye on very young kids. Children under five can drown in less than two inches of water, so be careful when your kids are playing in wading pools, inflatable pools, or even small creeks and shallow edges of ponds and lakes. While this depth of water may seem safe, you’ll want to make sure your child doesn’t fall down or roll into an unsafe position that would submerge her nose and mouth in the water. If you have a pool at home, remember to fence it in. Kids should never play near or in a pool unsupervised.
2. Take swimming lessons. Sure, your kids are enrolling in swim classes and learning the basics, but if you’re an uncertain swimmer, or haven’t been in the water in years, you might want to take swimming lessons in order to gain confidence in the water. In an emergency, if a lifeguard is not present, you’ll want to feel certain that you can hold your own as a swimmer.
3. Purchase proper flotation devices for your children. Coast-Guard approved life vests are crucial when on board a boat, and when simply playing in the pool, lake, or ocean, flotation aids can be helpful for kids aged 3-6 who are just learning to swim. This list of flotation devices is comprehensive and informative.
4. Pay attention to water temperature. Body temperature drops quickly in the water, and temperatures below 70 degrees can be too chilly for most young children to enjoy. A temperature between 82 and 86 degrees is ideal, and many pools are set to a temperature in this range, while, of course, oceans and lakes will be harder to control! Remember to watch out for water that is too hot as well. Adults may feel comfortable in hot tubs, but young children have thinner skin than adults, and be scalded by the temperatures of a hot tub at 140 degrees or higher.
5. Teach kids about safety near water. Remind your kids never to run near a pool’s edge, because slipping on water is likely, and an accidental fall into a pool can be fatal to a child who is not a confident swimmer. Make sure your kids do not push each other near the water’s edge, and should never dive in an area that is not marked specifically for diving. When playing in shallow ocean water, they should face the surf so as not to be surprised or knocked over, and if waves become too large or thunder claps over head, it’s time to get out of the water.
Of course, remember your own most effective responses to emergencies. If you encounter a child in distress in the water, retrieve the child while calling loudly for another adult to dial 911. Check to make sure the child is breathing, and if he is not, start CPR if you are trained. If you are not trained, ask for directions from the emergency operator. Your actions can make a huge difference in the event of an emergency in the water.