Summer water fun for your child
Just Add Water for Summer Fun
Water Safety Tips for Families
The Memorial Day holiday marks an important transition for many parents and children. The end of the school year is at hand, and days of sunny family fun draw near. One of the most anticipated events heralded by Memorial Day is the beginning of the outdoor swim season. Across the country, outdoor pools, water parks, ocean beaches, and lakefront beaches open to eager children and their families.
A dip in the backyard pool with barbeque or a visit to the nearby pool for a party becomes make memorable family fun. In addition, with the continued uncertainties in the economy combined with high gasoline prices, a weekend or “staycation” built around fun in the water is an appealing option.
However, the joy of summer and fun in the water is tempered by a serious concern of childhood drowning. Sadly, drowning is the second most common cause of death and injury in children and teens, and a spike in its incidence occurs during the summer months. As a parent, grandparent, or relative of a child, there are steps you can take to reduce the risks for children as they enjoy water play .
Step 1: Supervise always
Constant adult supervision is required when children are in or near the water. Small children especially may drown even in small amounts of water. With parties or large adult groups, take turns supervising children to minimize distraction and allow enjoyment for all.
Step 2: Create a safe environment
Fences around backyard pools are mandatory in many cities. Any type of physical barrier such as a pool cover or fencing is essential to minimize the risk of unsupervised entering the water. Safety equipment such as life buoys or reaching poles gives added rescue options for the distressed swimmer in a backyard pool.
There are multitudes of age and size rated options for children's lifejackets. U.S. Coast Guard approved lifejackets provide an additional degree of confidence. Proper-fit and wear are essential for lifejackets to maximally protect developing young swimmers.
Decreased visibility, currents, and sudden changes in depth, to name a few, add challenges to swim in lakes and oceans. Extra vigilance is required by responsible adults including closer supervision, scan of the area for hazards, and check for swim warning or advisories.
Step 3: Teach swimming skills
There is still controversy on timing to begin acclimating children to water and teaching basic swimming skills. The American Academy of Pediatrics issued new recommendations last year suggesting that providing children as young as a year old with experience with water may make them less likely to drown.
National organizations such as the American Red Cross or the YMCA have strong stakes in water safety and offer swim lessons for all age groups. Also, an internet search for children’s swim lessons is likely to find either independent or franchise swim schools in your area to help acclimate very young children to the water and teach swim skills to older children.
Swimming can be an enjoyable and healthful activity for families year round. Preparation by parents will insure that the arrival of summer brings fun and safety in the water for their children.