Playing in the water is great fun for kids, but it can be dangerous. When your family goes to beaches and pools this summer remember to think about water safety. Here are five tips to help you keep your family safe.
1. Swimming lessons
Being able to swim is a lifesaver for children and their parents. If you haven’t already learned to swim, sign up for lessons now. If you and your children can swim, sign up for lessons to improve your swimming skills.
Always supervise children even if a lifeguard is on duty. Do not ask one child to supervise another. If you are with a group, assign a specific person to supervise the children. This person should be an adult who knows how to swim and who is not drinking alcohol. If group members plan to share supervision duties, it is a good idea to use Water Watcher cards. The adult on duty wears the Water Watcher card and gives it to the next person when shifts change. Using this system helps prevent a lapse in supervision. You can download a Water Watcher card on the Safe Kids website.
3. Do not swim alone.
Implement the buddy system. Tell your children to swim with a friend or family member. Even if a lifeguard is present, the buddy system improves water safety.
4. Establish water rules
Make a set of rules for your children to follow when in or near water including pools. You should include the following rules:
- Children must ask you before going in the water
- No diving is allowed unless approved by you (after making sure the area is safe for diving)
- Children can only swim to a certain depth of water
- The type of play that is not allowed in or near the water (pushing, pulling, etc.)
- What area of the beach or pool the children are allowed to swim in
- If the children need to wear certified life jackets
- How often your children need to take a break from swimming
Type up the rules and laminate them. Then you can review them with your children when you go to a beach or pool.
5. Use appropriate safety devices
Don’t rely on water toys such as noodles, inner tubes or armbands to protect your children from drowning. The American Red Cross recommends that young children and inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard approved life jackets. It states that these properly certified life jackets are the only kind designed to prevent drowning.
For more tips and information about water safety see these websites:
American Red Cross
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
American Academy of Pediatrics
American Red Cross
National Traffic Safety Institute