With many pools opening this Memorial Day weekend and families gearing up to go on summer vacation, now is a great time to talk with your children about water safety! Whether it’s a backyard or community pool, a public pool, lake, or ocean, making water safety a priority is the first step in keeping children safe.
According to the American Red Cross, families need to adopt water safety practices and follow them. Members of the whole family will benefit from following the safety tips offered by the American Red Cross and the U.S. Swim School Association:
- Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
- Ensure that everyone in the family learns to swim well. Enroll in age appropriate water safety and swimming lessons.
- Even when you do not plan on swimming, be cautious around natural bodies of water including ocean shorelines, rivers, and lakes.
- Adults should avoid the use of alcohol around water for their own safety as well as the safety of the children they are supervising.
- If you own a home pool or hot tub, have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit.
Specific suggestions for young children:
- Never leave a child unattended near water and never trust a child’s life to another child; teach children to always ask permission to go near water.
- Create a verbal cue for your toddler or child that must be given by you before he or she can enter a body of water.
- Create a process the child must go through before entering a pool such as putting on a swimsuit and applying sunscreen.
- Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard –approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone.
- Establish water safety rules for your family and enforce them. For example, set limits based on each person’s ability, do not let anyone play around drains and suction fittings, and do not allow swimmers to hyperventilate before swimming under water or have breath-holding contests.
- Actively supervise children whenever around the water, even if lifeguards are present. Always stay within arm’s reach of young children and avoid distractions when supervising children around water.
- Never drop your kids off at the public pool or leave them at the beach – designate a responsible adult to supervise.
- If a child is missing, always check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.
- Teach children to open their eyes under water, so that if they fall in they could find the side of a pool or steps and get out safely.
- Always make sure children wear life jackets on boats, personal watercraft and in open bodies of water.
When each member of your family is committed to following these safety guidelines, accidents in and around water can be avoided. Be sure to share your family water rules with anyone who cares for your children or who tags along on trips to the pool or beach. This way children will always know what to expect, and everyone will be safe!
For more information about water safety, visit the American Red Cross’s website at: http://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/water-safety