Water Safety Tips Ensure Summertime Fun for the Whole Family

The temperature is in the 90’s in Atlanta this week. The sun is shining, the natives are sweating in their short sleeves, and, as of Memorial Day, most area swimming pools, campgrounds and swimming holes are open for summertime fun.

While swimming is a great way to spend time with the family or get some exercise after being cooped up by the winter cold or the torrential spring rains, it is also important to keep in mind that failing to take safety precautions when swimming can lead to deadly results, especially among children.

It’s a sad fact that drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury related deaths to children under 14 years of age. According to a report issued by the City of Pasadena (California) Fire Department, each year approximately 1,150 children ages 14 and under drown and an estimated 5,000 more are hospitalized due to near-drowning. And, 5 to 20% of children who experience near drowning end up suffering from some severe and permanent impairment. While we do not want to think about the chances of tragedy striking while we enjoy our summer traditions, it is important to take some simple safety precautions to ensure a healthy, happy and safe swim time.

Swimming

1.) Supervise your children at all times when near water. Drowning can occur within a matter of seconds. During large gatherings, assign an adult and a backup to keep an eye on children in and near the water at all times.
2.) Learn how to swim, perform water rescues, and CPR.
3.) Do not rely on lifejackets, floaties, pool toys, or swimming lessons for a child’s water safety.
4.) If you own a personal swimming pool, create barriers between your child and the pool. These can include alarms on doors and windows leading to the water, a non-climbable 5+ foot fence with openings too narrow for even the smallest children to fit through, self-closing and self-latching gates, and pool safety covers. Also, be sure to instruct your babysitter in pool safety.
5.) If a child is missing, check the pool area first. Victims of near drowning can sometimes be resuscitated, but every second counts.
6.) Never swim or supervise young swimmers while under the influence.

Boating

1.) Make sure children wear life jackets at all times. Explain how to use each type of lifejacket available on the boat.
2.) Always operate at a safe speed and at a safe distance from shore and other vessels.
3.) Make sure children stay seated on the boat, especially when it is moving or near other vessels.
4.) Return to shore if rain or storms seem imminent. Weather can change rapidly.
5.) Teach children how to handle boating accidents – stay with the boat, climb into it if possible, and wait for help.
6.) Never boat under the influence.

Parents, for a fun and interactive way to teach your children about water safety, introduce them to Bobber the Water Dog, the mascot of the National Water Safety Program.

There are, of course, many ways to keep children safe and having fun in the water. Do you have any more tips on water safety for children? If so, please share in the comments so we can all have a safe, happy and healthy summer.