The summer months wouldn't be complete without a trip to the swimming pool, lake, river or ocean. But fun can quickly turn to tragedy without the right training and supervision — especially for kids. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cites drowning as the second leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 14.
Following are tips to keep your child safe in and around the water this summer.
Learn to swim
Formal swimming classes are a good bet to help kids learn how to move and stay afloat in the water. Many classes are offered to children as young as 6 months. Even if your children have successfully completed a swimming program, however, be sure to supervise them when they are in or around water.
Emphasize to your kids that they should never go swimming alone. It’s important to have a buddy. When selecting a pool to visit, also try to find one that keeps lifeguards on staff, especially during busy times when there are a lot of people in the water.
Take a class in CPR
CPR skills can save the life of someone who has taken in too much water. Hopefully you won’t ever have to use your training, but you’ll be thankful for it if you ever do need to jump into action.
Pay attention to the weather
If you're headed out on a boat or for a day at the beach, check the weather reports first. You don’t want to get caught in an electrical storm. Also, pay attention to beach flags. When the water is choppy or showing signs of rip currents, the lifeguards will change the green “water is fine” flag to yellow (caution) or even red (highly dangerous conditions).
Set up a fence
If you have a pool on your property, put a fence around it to keep curious children out, especially toddlers. Also keep the gate latched at all times.
Don’t make assumptions
If you believe that a drowning person thrashes around in the water and easily draws attention, think again. Many victims simply sink silently under the water's surface. For this reason it’s very important to watch everyone who is in the pool or other body of water.
Floatable noodles or air wings around a child’s arms will not keep him from drowning. If you are in a situation where your child needs a life jacket, make sure to get one that is Coast Guard approved.
With a little bit of preparation and attentive supervision, you can ensure that your kids' water activities are fun, safe and memorable.
For further reading
For more on water safety, visit these links:
- CDC (http://www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Water-Safety/waterinjuries-factsheet.html)
- Infant Aquatics (http://www.infantaquatics.com/)
- List of beach warning flags (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/cmp/programs/pdf/WarningFlagSign.pdf)
- Drowning myths (http://www.mamapedia.com/voices/4-heart-dash-stopping-myths-on-drowning-every-responsible-parent-should-know)
- Drowning prevention tips (http://www.nhwatersafety.com)