Swimming and summer go hand-in-hand, and when you’re a kid, there’s almost nothing more fun than splashing and kicking in the water. However, swimming doesn’t come without risks. Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death in the U.S. among children under 14 and the leading cause of accidental death for children under five. If you’re planning your summer around the water, whether it’s beaches, lakes, pools or waterparks, it is important to practice safety around water and while swimming.
When children are around any body of water, no matter how big or small, shallow or deep, be sure a trusted and responsible adult is actively supervising. Active supervision is different from regular supervision in the fact that the adult in charge should be distraction-free, able to be in the water at a moment’s notice, and be actively scanning and problem-solving before an incident occurs.
Teach Children to Swim
Ensuring your children are confident in the water is a crucial part to water safety. Make sure they know how to swim comfortably in the amount of water they’ll be in, teach them to tread water, to float, and to stay by the shore or edge. Ensure they know how to properly exit the water, such as along the edge of the pool or the ladder on the swim dock.
Teach Children about Different Swimming Environments
Swimming in open water is much different than swimming in a pool. Make sure your children are aware of any sudden drops in depth if walking in, dangerous surfaces under the water like rocks, oncoming waves, and changing weather. Avoid swimming in rivers during times where strong currents are present; no matter how strong of a swimmer you or your child is, currents are stronger and can be deadly, even if a lifejacket is utilized. Pools, while more controlled, can become dangerous if there are many people swimming or playing as signs of distress could be more difficult to spot right away.
Wear Properly-Fitted Life Jackets
Fit your child with a U.S. Coast Guard approved life vest, especially in the event you’ll be swimming in an area not supervised by a lifeguard or if your child is not yet a strong swimmer. A floatation device can only aide an inexperienced swimmer in any situation. Proper fit is essential to keep the head above water; if too large, the jacket will ride up around the face, and if too small, it won’t be able to keep the body afloat. For instructions on choosing the right life jacket, the U.S. Coast Guard has provided an informative brochure.
Communicate Danger and Rules
Let children know what could happen if they venture near water without letting an adult know where they’ll be. Set rules and boundaries specific to your own family, such as designated swimming times and locations, along with no running, no rough-housing, and how to draw attention to themselves should they find they’re in a dangerous situation.
Summer is the perfect time to get out and soak up the sun, with swimming and playing in the water a welcome relief to the heat. Being diligent about following these safety tips will ensure you and your family have a safe swim, no matter where your summer adventures take you! For more information about safe swimming or questions about your child’s health and safety, contact us today.