Staying Safe While Swimming
Water! We use it every day for a multitude of life-maintaining and life-enhancing activities. Water can also be a threat to life, particularly the lives of our precious children. Drowning is a leading cause of accidental death for small children. A few wise measures can prevent a tragedy!
Water Safety Begins in the Home!
Toddlers and children spend many pleasant hours exploring their home and yard. If a yard has a pond or small creek, parents are aware of that and supervise accordingly. There are some less obvious water dangers, though, in and around the home!
- Check your house and yard for standing water, such as buckets and tubs, and dump them. A toddler can drown in an inch of water!
- Empty kiddie pools, tubs, and buckets after use and turn them upside down to avoid rainwater collection.
- Always watch kids closely around water. Keep very young children at arm’s length so you can grab them if they slip underwater.
- If you have a pool, put an appropriate fence around it, and keep the gate securely closed. An alarm saves lives!
- Install toilet seat locks if toddlers are in your home, and always close the lid.
- Keep bathroom and laundry room doors closed.
- Stay with young children when they’re bathing and drain the tub immediately after use.
- Take a CPR and basic water rescue course. This is useful in many situations you may encounter as a parent or caregiver.
- More guidelines for water safety in the home can be found online.
Safety in the Water
If you have been blessed with a pool, spa, or natural water source near your house, special precautions need to be taken to prevent tragic accidents. Children of all ages are attracted to any of these. They can be fun or they can be dangerous. Be proactive and explain the rules for their use and the reasons behind the rules.
- Actively supervise young children, particularly nonswimmers, around pools, spas, and other water sources.
- Have a well-maintained fence that has a self-closing gate, with an alarm, around your pool and/or spa area.
- Teach children that they must never swim in a natural water source without permission and a parent’s or other responsible adult’s active presence. Currents, changing depth, and unstable bottom surfaces can all present hazards that don’t exist in pools.
- Use inflatable pool toys and styrofoam noodles as toys, not water safety devices. To prevent drowning, use only Coast-Guard approved flotation devices.
- Drain covers in a pool or spa should be dome-shaped instead of flat; children should be taught to stay away from drain covers as the suction can become strong and trap a child underwater.
- Swimming can be a wonderful addition to childhood experiences. Check out these further safety tips for safer swimming anywhere.
Safety on the Water
Tastes in boats vary from the silent, sleek canoe to the dancing sailboat and the powerful mostorboat, But so matter your choice of boat, children will love it! The water under the boat, however, is usually deep, sometimes swift, and always presents its own dangers to the boating child. Keep children safe to enjoy this activity by following some recommended guidelines.
- Always have all passengers, especially children, wear a Coast-Guard approved lifejacket. For safety, the lifejacket should be worn snugly and should stay below the child’s chin level even when the arms are raised.
- Never drink alcoholic beverages while using a boat.
- Bring a warm towel or blanket for a cold baby or child.
- Babies should not travel on a boat until they meet the minimum weight requirement for the smallest Coast-Guard approved flotation device. If you’re holding a baby while on a boat, be sure to wear your own life jacket as well.
- Explain basic boat rules and make sure the children follow them.
- Make sure an adult is present to supervise a teen who is running a boat.
Safety During Flooding
Floods can be days long, resulting from hurricanes or stalled fronts, or they can be flash floods caused by a summer thunderstorm. All floods are dangerous, eapecially to children. With swift currents, even good swimmers can be swept away, tumbled underwater, and struck by swiftly floating debris. Following some simple guidelines will help to insure that children in your care do not become flood victims!
- Move to higher ground when flooding is forecast. That simple procedure can save difficulties and perhaps lives.
- Follow emergency officials’ instructions. They are usually the best sources to tell you when and where to go for safety, as well as how to contact rescuers if you are trapped by water.
- Keep children away from flood water. Often they’re fascinated by it and see no danger with the edges, but flood water often as a strong current carries sewage, and conceals downed electric wires.
- Never drive through any flooded areas that have current higher than the bottom of your hubcap. It’s best not to drive at all into a flooded area because you can’t see the sides of roads under the water Many children have drowned when a driver failed to see the edge of a culvert or small bridge and was swept into rushing current.
- Children who are old enough to read will love learning for themselves how they and others can be safer during flooding. Knowledge of what to do in an emergency is often comforting to children and a help to people around them in difficult situations!
Whether we’re bathing children, splashing in a backyard kiddie pool, enjoying a heated Olympic-sized pool at a resort, or bouncing in a catamaran on a lake, water can be a source of hours of peaceful enjoyment. Floods, uncontrolled water, is frightening and dangerous. Whether peaceful or obviously dangerous, children can be protected from drowning by following a few common-sense practices!