We are in the dog days of summer. Those with kids have no doupt been regulars at their local pools and ,if lucky, visited beaches. Swimming is one of the most popular summer activities for kids. It’s such a normal and regular activity, that we as parents can often forget the basic safety precautions we should take. This is especially true with young children who have not had formal swimming lessons yet. Below are some important safety tips from the American Red Cross. These are precautions that we should all take into consideration regardless of whether at a home pool or at the local community pool or club.
Tips for supervising children:
- Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards. Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone.
- Provide close and constant attention to children you are supervising, even when a lifeguard is present, no matter how well the child can swim or how shallow the water. Avoid distractions including cell phones.
- Never leave a young child unattended near water and do not trust a child’s life to another child; teach children to always ask permission to go near water.
- Designate a water whatcher whenever in a group setting.
- Stay within an arm’s reach of any weak or inexperienced swimmer who is in the water.
- Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone.
- Do not rely on the use of water wings, swim rings, inflatable toys or other items designed for water recreation to replace adult supervision.
- If you have a pool, secure it with appropriate barriers to prevent unsupervised access to the water.Many children who drown in home pools did so during non-swim times – when they weren’t expected to be in the water, including as the swimming activity was coming to an end and everyone was thought to be out of the water.
What to do in case of an emergency:
- If a child is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.
- Know how and when to call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
- Have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit.
- Enroll in age-appropriate Red Cross water orientation and learn-to-swim courses.
- Enroll in Red Cross home pool safety, water safety, first aid and CPR/AED courses to learn how to prevent and respond to emergencies.
Have fun out there this summer, but remember these tips especially if you are with someone who can’t swim or if supervising children.