When the weather gets hot, one of the best ways to cool down is finding a body of water. But if you’re not prepared, swimming can go from fun to dangerous quickly—especially for children. In fact, one out of every five of those who unintentionally drown are children ages 14 or younger. To ensure that this summer is both refreshing and safe for you and your children, follow these water safety tips.
Whether your children are going swimming in a pool, a lake, or the great, wide ocean, teach them to always have a buddy. Entering water alone increases the risks of drowning or injury. This rule applies to adults as well. No matter your age, size, or swimming skills, you’re no match for an undertow, riptide, or strong current. A partner can help keep watch and be there to get help if something goes wrong.
Get the Right Gear
From boating to tubing to just floating around in the water, having the right gear is essential. Before you leave for an afternoon at the pool, a day on a boat, or time at the beach, make sure you’re stocked with life jackets, floaties, noodles, and inflatables to keep everyone afloat and safe in the event of an emergency. It’s also important to check that each person has a life jacket that fits properly.
A great way to have an extra boost of confidence when it comes to water safety is to enroll everyone in your family in swimming lessons. Several organizations, including the Red Cross, offer family lessons so you and your kids can have the right tools to tackle the water. Additionally, CPR courses are a great way to ensure you know what to do in case of an emergency.
Lifeguards are life savers, but they can’t have eyes on everyone all the time. Make sure you always know where your children are playing or swimming and keep them within eyesight—even when you’re at a neighborhood or household pool. Statistically, nearly 250 children under five drown in pools each year, usually when an adult is nearby. Be sure to never leave small children unattended for any duration of time.
Watch Out for Mother Nature
When swimming in a natural body of water, it’s important to measure its state. When spring produces heavy rainfall, rivers, creeks, and even oceans can become more treacherous. Before wading in any form of water, check if it’s safe by looking at color, foam levels, choppiness, size of waves, and if there is debris in the water. The more of these signs you see, the less likely it’s safe to swim.
If you’re unsure, call your local park service or beach to ask for information on water safety.
It can be fun to play in the surf, especially when the waves get big. But this is also when being in the water can become most dangerous. Large waves are much stronger than most swimmers, so it’s important to alert children to stay away from them, and if they do get caught in a wave’s pull, make sure to explain to always swim parallel to break free. As always, the best way to stay safe is to stay close to shore.
If you follow these simple safety tips, you’ll keep yourself and your family safe—and have more fun during your time on the water together.