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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!