Now that temperatures are heating up and summer is on its way, it’s likely your family will soon want to partake in the fourth most popular sports activity in the nation: swimming! But before anyone takes a dip, it’s essential to prioritize safety. Whether at home, at a public pool, or at the beach, be sure to follow these tips to make sure everyone stays safe and has a splashy, sensational time.
Regardless of whether there’s a lifeguard on duty or other adults milling around, your child’s supervision needs to be a top priority. Do not blindly trust that a lifeguard or others will be looking out for their safety. Always designate an adult who’s in charge of supervision (i.e., do not simply drop them off at the pool or at a local beach).
Make an effort to minimize all distractions so you can focus on the task-at-hand. In addition, you should never leave a child unattended near water, even if no one plans on going swimming.
Be sure to establish rules within your family about children always asking permission to swim and consistently reinforce the use of the “buddy system” to ensure your child never swims alone.
Invest in swimming lessons
Everyone in the family should learn to swim.
Although taking swimming lessons should not be regarded as a substitute for supervision, it’s important to enroll your young child in toddler swimming lessons (or older children in age-appropriate swimming lessons) from a relatively early age.
If you do not feel confident in your own swimming abilities, you can also invest in instruction for yourself. Regardless of their skill level, you should engage in what’s called “touch supervision” (swimming within arm’s length) with young children and/or weaker swimmers any time you go into the water.
Implement safety devices
Flotation devices are a must, even when you’re simply near the water. Make sure your children’s life vests are Coast Guard-approved and fit properly. These vests should have a snug fit and should align with weight and size recommendations. Children under the age of five should be fitted with a vest with head support and a strap between their legs.
Keep in mind that you should not rely on life jackets alone to keep your children safe (which is why it’s important to invest in swim lessons for toddlers, practice constant supervision, and know what to do in case of an emergency). In addition, note that inflatable flotation devices like water wings will not protect your child in a drowning incident.
Protect and hydrate
Water safety is paramount, but drowning isn’t the only danger to worry about. When in outdoor swimming pools and at the beach, you’ll need to protect your family from the elements. The summer sun can be quite harsh — and even on cloudy days, skin protection is paramount.
Reapply broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher often and make sure all body parts are covered. Sunglasses with UV protection, sun hats, umbrellas, and other protective clothing are musts, too.
Make sure your family drinks plenty of water to prevent dehydration. Just because you’re in the water doesn’t mean you don’t need fluids! Know the early signs of dehydration and mandate drink breaks regularly.
You should also watch for signs of hypothermia when swimming in colder water. If a child is shivering or complains of muscle cramps, they need to get out of the water right away. Water temperatures below 70 degrees Fahrenheit will feel quite cold to most people, while temperatures of 82 to 86 degrees will likely feel ideal for most kids.
This summer, having fun in the sun and the sea can allow your family to make loads of cherished memories. Just make sure to follow these safety tips to ensure everyone is safe when you’re on or in the water. And if you haven’t signed your children up for swim lessons yet, please contact us today to learn more.