With summer heating up, people can’t wait to cool down in the nearest watering hole. Whether it’s a swimming pool, local lake or fun-filled water park, area residents want to enjoy the warm weather with a splash. However, before jumping in, caution should be taken to keep you safe while enjoying wet relief.
First and foremost, parents always should keep an eye on their children–regardless of age–when participating in water activities. Although lifeguards are keeping an eye on children in and around the pool, they are not babysitters. Injuries or drowning can happen in seconds, so being vigilant is vital to water safety.
Next, make sure your children know how to swim. Many local organizations such as the YMCA and the American Red Cross offer swimming lessons for children, so consider signing your child up if you do not feel comfortable or qualified to teach your child to swim. And, even if your children know how to swim, always make sure they swim with a buddy.
Also, kids should never run or roughhouse around water. The surrounding patio and/or deck area could be slippery when wet, and children can hit the deck or fall in the water. In addition, do not allow children to dive into shallow water. ThinkFirst National Injury Prevention Foundation–whose mission is to prevent traumatic injuries among young people by focusing on injury prevention education, research and public policy–recommends water be at least 12 feet deep for safe diving from the side of a pool or deck and to always dive with your hands in front of you.
Another tip to remember is to survey the pool, lake, river or other area where children will be swimming. If the pool water is cloudy, think twice before allowing your child to swim. Cloudy water means poor vision, which is unsafe. This is also important for lakes and other natural swimming holes.
Working in tandem with water safety, parents should take preventative measures to avoid several heat-related illnesses in their children as well. Hydration plays a key role in water safety, one that many parents overlook. To stay hydrated, opt for water or Gatorade instead of sugary or caffeinated drinks.
Sunburn is another possible water-related ailment. Many people forget that the sun can burn through water. In fact, rays reflected off the water can increase the risk of sunburn. Therefore, be sure to wear (and reapply often) waterproof sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least 15.
With all the fun and excitement of being in the water, many parents may chalk up their children’s weariness to just getting tired. However, what they actually may have is heat exhaustion. Make sure to limit their time in the sun, and if their skin gets warm and dry, take them to a shaded area so they can cool down as soon as possible.
Some final safety tidbits from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta: Many state laws require certain age groups on board boats or personal watercraft to wear a size-appropriate personal flotation device. Children should swim only in designated safe areas of rivers, lakes and oceans. Also, check and follow the local and state laws for restrictions on operating a personal watercraft. And, finally, adults and children age 13 and older should learn infant and child CPR. In the event of an emergency, this could save a life.