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Gilbert Guppy: Your Safer Response Expert


Hello Everyone!

I am Gilbert Guppy and I am here to talk to you about Safer Response. As you’ve already heard from my buddy Sammy the Starfish, you know that it is impossible to eliminate all the dangers in the water, so what do you do if the unexpected does happen?

Before you go swimming, it is vitally important to have a water safety response plan in place. Some important steps for a water safety plan include:

  • Knowing how to call 911
  • Having a phone by the pool
  • Knowing the address and phone number of the pool
  • Being able to explain the nature of the emergency
  • Identifying adults that children can go to for help
  • Knowing equipment that could be used to throw in as flotation devices or extend to reach the person and pull them in
  • Practicing and knowing how to take immediate action – seconds count!

Don’t forget: Reach or Throw, Don’t Go. Let Someone Know! This is behavior that anyone can practice for a safer response if there is an emergency in the water. Emphasis that you should find help first. You can help the person in trouble by finding a long stick, noodle, rope or shepherds hook, lay on your stomach and try to reach for them so that you can safely pull them to safety, or throw any sort of water flotation device to them to grab on. It is important that you do not try jumping in to help the person in the water. Even if you can swim! Rescues should be left to people trained in water to do so.

It is never too late to learn lifesaving water safety skills. Please follow the link below to the American Red Cross to find opportunities to take classes on things like CPR and first aid.

The American Red Cross:

Thank you for taking the time to talk with me about Safer Response!



Sammy Starfish: A Star of Safer Water!

SammyHi Everyone!

Allow me to introduce myself! I am Sammy the Starfish and I am stuck on Safer Water!

For water dwelling folks like me, it’s wonderful that we live in a world so abundant with water, but for you land living fellows, water can be dangerous! Just like the my danger out of water cannot be totally eliminated, for you, the dangers in the water can never be totally eliminated, but we can make the water safer.

I am sure some of you are thinking, how can I make water safer? Well, just consider and follow the steps below and you too can be a star of Safer Water!

Step one is to identify a safety issue. Take a moment, find some nice wall to stick to and think about all the places water can be found around you. Oceans and pools to be sure, but also bath tubs, sinks, even buckets can provide a danger to some of you little humans. Once you can identify the risk, you can also take steps to minimize the danger.

Be sure to provide barriers, fences, and restricted access to the larger bodies of water. It is very important to stick to these rules. It is difficult to remain vigilant all the time. As someone can drown in as little as 5 minutes, limiting access to the water can mean the difference between life and death.

There is more to identifying dangers than simply recognizing areas of water that could pose a risk. You must also determine what risks are specific to that body of water.

As you can imagine, I spend a lot of time in the ocean, so I am well aware of rip tides, strong surf, and currents. Being familiar with how water can behave in the ocean is something every SwimKid should know. Did you know: The best way to deal with a rip tide is not to swim directly back to shore, but to swim parallel to the shore, gradually swimming diagonally back towards the beach?

Last but not least, let me bring up another star you should know; your water watcher or life guard! Always make sure to swim in a supervised area. As I said, not all of us are lucky enough to be a fish let alone also a star. Even the best swimmers are not free of the dangers of the water. Having someone educated in water safety on hand, watching the water and ready to help is an absolute must. But Safer Response is not really my area of expertise. For that, I will turn you over the the capable fins of Gilbert Guppy!

As always, I am Sammy Starfish reminding you that for Safer Water, look to the Star!



25 Fantastic Swimming Games For Spring Break


Winter is coming to a close, which means spring break is right around the corner! Going to the pool is always a great spring break activity, and these fun water games will boost the fun!

Swimming games are a fun way to get active in the pool, but it is important to stay safer in the water as well. Be aware of the swimming skills of each child involved and be sure to have at least 1 adult in the water  for every 5 kids playing. Most games can be modified to accommodate less experience swimmers if you stay in a shallow area of the pool where they can touch the bottom. Pay close attention to the kids during these games, especially if they involve holding their breath!  Remember, water can never be “safe,” only “safer.” Practice the Safer 3: safer water, safer kids, and safer response.

To keep children safer in the water, designate an adult “water watcher” to enforce swimming only in supervised areas and watch the children with no distractions until relieved by another adult. The water watcher should also know how to use the available rescue equipment and be prepared to call 911 if necessary.


Searching Games

Treasure Hunt – Put some money on a diving game by throwing spare change into the water. Let players dive for the coins. The winner could come out a bit richer!

Scavenger Hunt – Find pairs of items that will sink in the water and drop them into the pool. See who can find one of each item first!

Pirates – For this game, select an odd number of diving toys and toss them into the pool. The players are divided into two teams and whichever team comes back with the most pool toys wins!

Invisibottle – Fill a clear plastic water bottle with water and try to find it in the pool. You’ll be surprised how easily it camouflages!

Marco Polo – This is a classic swimming game known for having lots of cheaters, so make sure to keep everyone honest! One player closes their eyes in the pool and when he/she calls out “Marco,” the rest of the players have to call back “Polo!” Whoever is “it” has to try and find someone to tag and once they do, that person becomes “it”. Just remember, whoever is “it” has to keep their eyes closed and the rest of the players have to answer when he/she calls “Marco”. Don’t let the person who is “it” wander into any walls or the deep end!


Diving/Jumping Games 

Belly Flop Contest – An old classic and always good for a laugh! Just make sure the water is deep enough.

Handstand Contest – This game is simple. One player is the “judge” and the rest do an underwater handstand and see who can hold it the longest. The judge determines the winner. Just make sure nobody holds their breath too long!

Jump/Dive/Twist – This is best off of a diving board and should only be played in water 6 feet deep or greater. One player goes to the diving board and as soon as they are just about to jump, friends below yell either “jump,” “dive,” or “twist”. The diver then has to react quickly to be able to complete the correct action.

Cannonball contest – Need we say more? Again, just make sure the water is deep enough and go for the biggest splash!


Chasing Games

Mermaid/ Dolphin/Submarine Races – A game with lots of names, just hold your breath and see who can swim the furthest. Just be careful that nobody holds their breath too long!

Sharks and Minnows – a swim team favorite, one player starts off as the “shark” and the rest of the players line up at one end of the pool. When the shark says “go,” the “minnows” try to swim past him/her to the other side of the pool. If a minnow is tagged, they become a shark until there are no minnows left!

Categories – One player stands outside of the pool, right at the edge, and names a category such as colors, breakfast cereal, etc. The rest of the players are in the water, lined up at the end of the pool and they each think of an item within the selected category. The person who is it turns around and starts listing items from that category (blue, red, green etc.). When the players in the water hear their selection called out, they have to try to swim to the other side of the pool as quickly and quietly as possible. If the person who is it hears them, they turn around, jump into the water, and try to catch them before they reach the other side of the pool. If they catch them, that player becomes “it”.

Dolphins and Sharks – Designate half of the players as dolphins and the other half as sharks. One end of the pool will be a “safe spot” for the dolphins, and the other end for the sharks. Have both teams start out in the middle of the pool and have a third party yell either “dolphins attack” or “sharks attack!”. Whoever is called has to try and tag as many players from the other team as they try to swim quickly back to their safe spot. The game ends when all of the players are on the same team.


Games That Are Fun To Watch

Duck Push – This game is good for a laugh! Take a few floating rubber ducks and have players race to push them across the pool with their noses. Whoever’s duck makes it to the finish line first wins! This game is great for children who may not be the strongest swimmers. Just remember to stay close!

Chicken Fight – This game is better for teens or adults. Make sure to stay away from the sides of the pool so no one gets hurt! Create two-person teams where one person is on the bottom and the other sits on their shoulders. The goal is to knock the other team’s top person off of the bottom person. Be careful with this one, it can get crazy!

Greased Watermelon Football – This is just as fun to watch as it is to play! Grease a watermelon with Vaseline or something similar and throw it into a pool. Two teams duke it out to see who can get the watermelon out of the pool first. It is tricky to hang on to that watermelon!

Atomic whirlpool – This game works best with a large group of people. While in the water, run or walk as fast as you can around the outer edge of the pool. This will create a current that will gently carry everyone like a “whirlpool”.


Games With Floaty Toys

Noodle Joust – Go medieval with this fun pool game! Every player can choose a mighty steed (pool floaty) and a soft pool noodle to have a joust. First player to knock the other off their floaty wins!

Bobbing heads – This game resembles the carnival game “Whack-A-Mole.” One player takes a soft object, like a pool noodle, and tries to tap other players on the head when they come up for air. The rest of the players are “safe” when they are underneath the water, but can be tapped when they bob their heads up. This game works great for kids who aren’t super strong swimmers, just stay where they can touch the pool floor!

Number Crunch – This game requires a little bit of preparation, but is very fun! Write numbers (for point values) on about 25 ping-pong balls and toss them around the pool. Have a race for teams to retrieve all the balls from the pool and put them into their team’s bucket. Here’s the catch, players can only get one ball at a time. Once all of the balls have been collected, teams add up their point total. Whichever team ends up with the highest point value wins!

Piranha Ball – 3 or more players hold hands to make a circle around a floating beach ball. The point of the game is you do NOT want to touch the ball or else you are out! Players can try to blow the ball or pull other players so that they touch the ball, but you can’t let the ball out of the circle! For larger groups, you can add more than one ball! This game is fun for kids who aren’t very strong swimmers as long as you stay where they can touch the bottom!

Pool Versions of Playground Favorites

Popsicle – This fun game is like freeze tag in the water. One person is “it” and they try to tag and “freeze” all the other players until there is nobody left. Players can be “unfrozen” by another player swimming between their legs.

Octopus – If you’ve ever played Red Rover, you have a pretty good idea of how to play octopus. Players divide into two teams and each team joins hands. The teams take turns inviting another player from the opposing team to try and swim through their chain. If the swimmer makes it through, they get to bring a swimmer from that team back with them to their own team. If the swimmer doesn’t make it through, they switch to the opposing team. This game works well for younger swimmers if it is played in shallow water!

F-I-S-H – If you have a poolside basketball net, this game is for you! Players take turns trying to make a basket or a stunt shot. If they don’t make it, they get a letter. Once a player spells out “fish” they are out. The winner is the last player standing!

Rob the Nest – This game is similar to capture the flag. Have a couple of pool toys at the end of each side of the pool and divide into two teams. The first team to retrieve the items from the opposing team’s “nest” wins the game!
Did we miss your favorite pool game? Be sure to leave it in a comment below!



7 Spring Break Safety Tips

7 tips for a safe spring break

7 Tips For A Safer Spring Break

With spring break just around the corner, most kids are excited to get back into the pool. This excitement is natural, but in order to keep pools, oceans, and lakes a fun place, it is important to keep them safer. The reason we use the word, “safer” and not “safe” is because water is a hazard and is never entirely safe. While you may not have been swimming or even thinking about water over the winter, the hazards did not go away. However, these tips can help you and your family have fun and stay safer in and around the water this spring break.

Take a CPR class and/or swim lessons before you go. It is much better to know CPR and not have to use it than the alternative. Water can be unpredictable and it is always a good idea to be prepared for any scenario. Being prepared also entails teaching your child to swim. Formal swimming lessons reduce the risk of drowning by 88% among children ages 1-4. Babies can even start swimming lessons as young as 2 months old. While swimming lessons are never a guarantee, they can make a huge difference in protecting your child from water dangers.

  1. Pack tools, not toys. Many parents and children gain a false sense of security with the use of water wings or “floaty” toys. It is important to remember that these devices are not a replacement for life vests and are not guaranteed to protect your child.
  2. Be careful with breath-holding games. What may start out as a playful competition can quickly take a turn for the worst. It doesn’t take much to go unconscious and slip under the water.
  3. If the thunder roars, go indoors. If you are outside, be mindful of the weather and try to find shelter or go inside before lightning strikes. You definitely don’t want to be caught in the water during a lightning storm.
  4. Don’t use alcohol around the water. Nearly 70% of water related deaths among teens and adults involved the use of alcohol. Additionally, drinking could make you less aware if you are supposed to be watching children while they are in the water. Be safe and just avoid drinking near the water altogether.
  5. Use the buddy system. Never swim alone or let your child swim alone. Even if there is a lifeguard on duty, don’t literally bet your life that they will be watching you every second. If your child is not a strong swimmer, go one step further and use “touch supervision,” being within arm’s length of them at all times. For Safer Kids, use adult supervision when the buddy system isn’t available.
  6. Always use sunscreen. Use a waterproof sunscreen with at least 15 SPF and reapply every 2 hours. Remember that sunscreen needs time to work on the skin, so put it on 30 minutes in advance of sun exposure, even on cloudy days.
  7. Spring break is a great time to get back in the water, but don’t forget to take the proper precautions. Follow these tips and your family will be sure to have a fun, safer spring break!



Safe Spring Break


USA Swimming


Swimming Safety for Children [Infographic]

With the spring and summer approaching, it’s time to start thinking about your little one swimming. Whether you swim indoors or outdoors, there are multiple hazards that can be unsafe for children. In the graphic below we show the different hazards and how to stay safe around them.

swimming safer new


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Cold Water Swimming—Are You Doing It Safely? Take this quiz!


How to Protect your Hair from Chlorine Damage

By Jannina M. Londono

SwimJim Lifeguard and Instructor-in-training  


Love to swim but hate the effect the chlorine has on your hair? Well, now you can learn to protect your hair before, during and after swimming. Let’s start by explaining what chlorine is and why it’s in the pool to begin with. Chlorine is used as a water disinfectant, and without it, you wouldn’t want to swim in the pool to begin with! Chlorine helps keep the water safe and clean enough to swim in. Short, occasional exposures to chlorine won’t cause much damage to your hair, but overtime it can lead to dryness or change the tone of dyed hair.

Here are three basic tips that are absolutely FREE and can help you protect your hair!

  1. Your hair is very porous so if you thoroughly wet your hair in the shower or with clean tap water BEFORE entering the pool, your hair will be full of water and thus absorb less of the chlorine! Because of this fact, running sunscreen or Vaseline through your hair BEFORE entering the pool will coat your hair and help prevent the absorption of chlorine while also providing moisture. Rinse hair AFTER swimming! Rinsing your hair immediately after swimming can help wash away the bulk of the chlorine and any other dirt or bacteria that was picked up in the pool.
  2. Chlorine build-up can lead to limp, dry and dull hair. Using an apple cider vinegar rinse can help restore life and moisture to your hair within minutes. To safely rinse your hair with apple cider vinegar, you should mix four parts water to one part vinegar in a spray bottle. You should then spray your scalp generously and work into your hair with your fingers or a comb. Let the vinegar mixture sit for three to five minutes (depending on the length and thickness of your hair) and then rinse with cold water. Follow with a light conditioner and rinse well.
  3. Wear a swim cap! This may sound very obvious, but it really can significantly decrease the amount of chlorine your hair absorbs. And if you thoroughly wet your hair before putting on the cap, even better!

Here are three products that you can use to increase the protection on your hair!

  1. Chlorine-removing shampoos can be very helpful if used after swimming. These shampoos focus on removing any chlorine deposits left on the hair and some also help restore moisture as well. Ultraswim chlorine-removing shampoo has had great results and Fairy Tales Brand is great for kids hair (and adults too)!
  2. Leave-in conditioners are great to apply to wet hair after shampooing. This helps restore the moisture that was lost due to the chlorine and helps protect the hair from further damage. CHI silk infusion is a great leave-in conditioner that can be applied to dry hair before swimming and wet hair after!
  3. Lastly, if your hair is very dry or damaged you may want to talk to your hair stylist about getting a Moroccan oil treatment done. This is a great treatment to restore large amounts of moisture to your hair as well as restoring shine and overall health.

Don’t let chlorine damage get in the way of swimming! The damage is very preventable and treatable and we hope this tips will help you!


Myths of Winter Swimming


Many parents face a dilemma in the winter months: “to swim, or not to swim?”

Old wives tales  concerning children’s health in the winter are often taken as fact. When it comes to telling the difference between heath basics and popular mythology, parents don’t always have all the right information.  Dr. Norris Payne of Payne Pediatrics offers some facts to dispel these myths.

MYTH #1: Swimming, cold, and wind can cause ear infections.

FACT: Middle ear infections (otitis media), common in small children, are caused by viruses and infectious colds. Typically, fluids from the Eustachian tubes in the ear drain through the nose and throat. During illness, passages constrict and the fluid builds up and may   become infected. Swimmer’s ear seems to be a combination of factors. Warm humid air, warm water, length of time exposed to water, the natural enzymatic activity in the ear canal and the presence of bacteria are factors that predispose the ear to swimmer’s ear.

MYTH #2: A clear, runny nose is not contagious.

FACT: A clear, runny nose does not necessarily indicate a lack of infection. On the other hand, a colored discharge does not necessarily mean infection. Other symptoms should be considered as well as the length of time the symptoms have been present.

MYTH #3: Going outside with wet hair will cause a cold.

FACT: Wet hair, icy temperatures, and exposed heads don’t cause colds. Only viruses do! Rhinovirus survives better from late spring through early fall, when humidity is high.

MYTH #4: Most colds are caught in the winter.

FACT: Don’t let the name fool you– most “colds” are caught in the spring and the fall. The virus which causes colds becomes largely dormant in the winter.

MYTH #5: Sudden changes in temperature or getting caught in the rain will cause colds.

FACT: If one becomes ill after experiencing these weather conditions, Dr. Payne believes the illness and the weather are just a coincidence. Viruses cause colds, not the weather.   However, Dr. Payne does agree changes in weather conditions may cause allergies to flare up. Sneezing and runny noses lasting a few days are indications of an allergic reaction; colds last about 1-2 days.

Portions of this article have been reprinted with permission from Parentimes Magazine.