By Beverly Hopps, Safe Kids
Hanging out on the pool deck with the kiddos this summer?
Summertime brings a lot of open water for kids to jump into and play. Between pools, lakes, beaches and hot tubs, remember these essential safety tips so that you and your family have a safe and fun summer.
1. Within arm’s reach: There is no substitute for active supervision.
Actively supervise children in and around open bodies of water, giving them your undivided attention. Whenever infants or toddlers are in or around water, an adult should be within arm’s reach to provide active supervision.
We know it’s hard to get everything done without a little multitasking, but this is the time to avoid distractions of any kind. If children are near water, then they should be the only thing on your mind. Small children can drown in as little as one inch of water.
When there are several adults present and children are swimming, designate an adult as the “Water Watcher” for a certain amount of time (such as 15-minute periods) to prevent lapses in supervision.
2. Educate your kids about pool and swimming safely.
Every child is different so enroll your child in swimming lessons when you feel they are ready. Teach children how to tread water, float and stay by the shore.
Make sure kids swim only in areas designated for swimming. Teach children that swimming in open water is not the same as swimming in a pool. They need to be aware of uneven surfaces, river currents, ocean undertow and changing weather.
From the first time your kids swim, teach children to never go near or in water without an adult present. Whether you’re swimming in a backyard pool or in a lake, teach children to swim with an adult. Older, more experienced swimmers should still swim with a partner every time.
3. Use but don’t solely rely on swimming aids.
Remember that swimming aids such as water wings or noodles are fun toys for kids, but they should never be used in place of a personal flotation device that is U.S. Coast Guard-approved.
4. CPR can save a life – take the time to learn it!
We know you have a million things to do, but learning CPR should be on the top of the list. It will give you tremendous peace of mind – and the more peace of mind you have as a parent, the better.
Local hospitals, fire departments and recreation departments offer CPR training – learn CPR and have your children learn CPR, too. It’s a skill that will serve you both for a lifetime.
5. Take extra steps around pools.
A swimming pool is a ton of fun for you and your kids. Make sure backyard pools have four-sided fencing that’s at least four feet high and a self-closing, self-latching gate to prevent a child from wandering into the pool area unsupervised. Install a door alarm, a window alarm or both to alert you if a child wanders into the pool area unsupervised.
When using inflatable or portable pools, remember to empty them immediately after use. Store them upside down and out of children’s reach.
6. Check the drains in your pool and spa.
Educate your children about the dangers of drain entanglement and entrapment and teach them to never play or swim near drains or suction outlets. Pools that pose the greatest risk of entrapment are children’s public wading pools, in-ground hot tubs or any other pools that have flat drain grates or one main drain system. For new pools or hot tubs, install multiple drains in all pools, spas, whirlpools and hot tubs. This minimizes the suction of any one drain, reducing risk of death or injury. If you do have drains, protective measures to take are anti-entrapment drain covers and a safety vacuum release system to automatically release suction and shut down the pump if entrapment occurs.
Regularly check to make sure drain covers are secure and have no cracks, and replace flat drain covers with dome-shaped ones. If a pool or hot tub has a broken, loose or missing drain cover, don’t use it.
Following these few safety guidelines will ensure you and your family have a great time in and around water – happy swimming!
Beverly Hopps is an educator with Safe Kids WNC for Mission Health.