Holiday Safety – Kids Around Water

Posted on Dec 14, 2013 in Health Topics

Holiday Safety – Kids Around Water

Pools, lakes, ponds, and beaches mean summer fun and cool relief from hot weather. But water also can be dangerous for kids if you don’t take the proper precautions. Nearly 1,000 kids die each year by drowning. And most drownings occur in home swimming pools.

Keeping Kids Safe

  • Kids need constant supervision around water — whether the water is in a bathtub, a wading pool, an ornamental fish pond, a swimming pool, a spa, the beach, or a lake.
  • Young children are especially vulnerable — they can drown in less than 2 inches (6 centimeters) of water. That means drowning can happen where you’d least expect it — the sink, the toilet bowl, fountains, buckets, inflatable pools, or small bodies of standing water around your home, such as ditches filled with rainwater. Always watch children closely when they’re in or near any water.
  • Don’t assume that a child who knows how to swim isn’t at risk for drowning. All kids need to be supervised in the water, no matter what their swimming skill levels.
  • Don’t forget the sunscreen and reapply frequently, especially if the kids are getting wet. UV sunglasses, hats, and protective clothing can also help provide sun protection.
  • Kids should drink plenty of fluids, particularly water, to prevent dehydration. It’s easy to get dehydrated in the sun, especially when kids are active and sweating. Dizziness, feeling lightheaded, or nausea are just some of the signs of dehydration and overheating.
  • Body temperature drops more quickly in water than on land, and it does not take long for hypothermia to set in. If a child is shivering or experiencing muscle cramps, get him or her out of the water immediately.

Making Kids Water Wise

It’s important to teach your kids proper pool and spa behavior, and to make sure that you take the right precautions, too. Let kids know that they should contact the lifeguard or an adult if there’s an emergency.

Kids shouldn’t run or push around the pool and should never dive in areas that are not marked for diving. If the weather turns bad (especially if there’s lightning), they should get out of the pool immediately.

Above all, supervise your kids at all times. Don’t assume that just because your child took swimming lessons or is using a flotation device such as an inner tube or inflatable raft that there’s no drowning risk. If you’re at a party, it’s especially easy to become distracted, so designate an adult who will be responsible for watching the children. If you leave your child with a babysitter, make sure he or she knows your rules for the pool.

At the Beach

Teach kids to always swim when and where a lifeguard is on duty. They shouldn’t swim close to piers or pilings because sudden water movements may cause swimmers to collide with them.

  • Unlike the calm waters of a swimming pool, the beach has special dangers like currents and tides. Check with the lifeguard when you arrive to find out about the water conditions.
  • Don’t allow kids to swim in large waves or undertows, and tell them never to stand with their back to the water because a sudden wave can easily knock them over.
  • Teach kids that if they’re caught in a rip current or undertow, they should swim parallel to the shore or should tread water and call for a lifeguard’s help.
  • The stings of jellyfish or Portuguese man-of-wars can be painful, so tell kids to avoid them in the water and to tell an adult right away if they’re stung.

Whether at the lake or at the beach, teach your child to get out of the water during bad weather, especially lightning.

Water Park Safety

Water parks can be a lot of fun for kids, as long as you keep safety in mind. Before you go, make sure the park is monitored by qualified lifeguards. Once there, read all posted signs before letting your child on any rides (many rides have age, height, weight, or health requirements, and each has a different depth of water).

Teach your kids to follow all rules and directions, such as walking instead of running and always going down the water slide in the right position — feet first and face up. A Coast-Guard approved life jacket is a good idea, too.

Know which rides are appropriate for your child’s age and development. For example, wave pools can quickly go from calm to rough, putting even a good swimmer in over his or her head. Younger children can be intimidated by older kids’ splashing and roughhousing.

Water play can be a great source of fun and exercise. You’ll enjoy the water experience more by knowing and practicing these safety precautions.