But the water activities and sports associated with summer fun can also be very dangerous. Whether you’ll be watching small children by the pool or hitting the beach yourself, there are many water safety issues you need to be aware of.
Pool and Backyard Water Safety
According to PoolSafety.Gov, nearly 300 children under the age of five drown each year in residential and public pools. There are also thousands of incidents that require emergency-room treatment or hospitalization. Children can drown in water as little as two inches of water. Be sure that buckets, wading pools and containers are emptied and put away once your children are done with supervised play.
There are several water safety basics that can protect your child, and help all children learn the rules around residential and public pools:
- Teach your children to never enter into the water without an adult present.
- If you own a pool, consider getting a pool gate or fence to keep the children out of the area unsupervised.
- Alarms and pool covers can also help keep your children out of the pool.
- Teach your child about pool drains and suction outlets and instruct them to stay away from these devices.
Even if you have these safety measures in place, though, it’s important to stay with your child when they are in the backyard and within arm’s reach when they are in the pool. Public pools can be dangerous as well. Although there are lifeguards on duty, they are not responsible for keeping your children out of danger – more for saving them once there is trouble. Watch your child carefully and be sure that they are following the rules – including walking around the pool instead of running.
Swimming lessons are a great way to teach basic water safety skills. You can start your children even when they are babies, and repeat lessons each year to refresh their skills. Your child will learn how to keep their head above water in the pool and become more confident swimmers. Note that swimming lessons don’t make your child “drown proof” – never leave children unsupervised in a body of water.
Swimming in Open Water
Open bodies of water have their own safety challenges. Swimming in a lake, river or the ocean is a lot different than swimming in a pool. Children and adults who have extensive water experience can still be in danger due to waves, unexpected drops in depth and rip currents.
Never swim on a beach without a lifeguard present. You and your family members should swim in pairs so you can keep an eye on one another. Lifeguards normally place flags out in the water to let you know where it is safe to swim. Not only are these cordoned off areas out of the paths of surfers and other water sport enthusiasts, they are out of the path of “rips.”
Rip currents, or “rips,” are strong, narrow currents that carry water from near the shore, out to sea. They can pull a swimmer out to sea further than he or she can swim back to shore. Even if a rip current doesn’t pull a person that far out, they can panic and drown or experience neck and spinal cord problems.
Lakes and rivers have their risks as well. If you are swimming in these bodies of water, follow the regular water safety guidelines like swimming in pairs. In addition, do not dive or jump into a lake or river that you’re unfamiliar with. There can be a big difference in depth between two parallel parts of a river and lake, and if you dive in you may hit the floor a lot sooner than you thought. Diving injuries can cause neck and back problems, including spinal cord injuries that can damage your mobility.
Staying safe around water is a matter of looking out for one another, keeping children within arm’s length and paying attention to a few specific rules for the body of water you’re swimming in. With these tips you can have fun this summer and stay safe at the same time!