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Tips for a Safe Summer in the Water

For kids, summertime means fun in the sun—and in the water! But before they hit the pool or the beach, it’s important to know a few things about safety. An accident in or near the water is not the way you want to end a warm summer day with the family. Take a moment to read the following tips to make sure the only memories you and your children have from a day on the water are happy ones.

The Basics

If you or your children don’t know how to swim, take lessons. When it comes to swim lessons for kids, the earlier the better. Babies can begin taking lessons as early as six months old. Low-cost swim lessons are available at most public pools or at your local YMCA.

Learn CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). CPR training is available through many different community organizations. CPR skills could save a child’s life in the unfortunate event of a water accident.

Protect your skin from the sun. Exposure to the sun’s harmful rays can cause cancer over time and significant burns on any given day. Wear plenty of waterproof sunscreen with a minimum SPF 15. Reapply every couple hours and after swimming or sweating. Wear a hat with a large brim when not in the water.

Drowning happens quickly and quietly. Make sure at least one adult is always watching when children are in or around the water, even if the children know how to swim.

Don’t drink alcohol if you plan to swim or are responsible for watching children.

Don’t read or use the phone while you are watching young children.

Floating toys like water wings, inner tubes, and noodles are designed for fun, not for safety. Never use toys like these in place of life jackets.

At the Pool

At public pools it’s important to make sure you’re clean before you hit the pool. This helps everyone stay safe from germs. Shower before swimming and always wash your hands after using the bathroom or changing diapers.

Take children on bathroom breaks and check diapers frequently. Use a bathroom or designated changing area to change diapers. Use a swim diaper for children who are not toilet trained.

If you have a pool at home, make sure it is separated from the house and the rest of the yard by a 4-sided pool fence that’s at least 4 feet high.

Fence gates should open outward, and be self-closing and self-latching. This simple measure will make sure that kids can’t get to the pool when you aren’t watching them.

At the Beach

Always check water and weather conditions before going to the beach to make sure it is safe to be in the ocean. This includes checking for high surf as well as notices or warnings about beach closures due to pollution.

Never swim in the ocean, lakes, or rivers after heavy rain. Runoff from rainstorms pollutes our waterways. To avoid getting sick, wait 72 hours after heavy storms before getting in the water.

Never swim during lightening storms. Get out of the water right away if you hear thunder or see lightning. Strong winds can also be dangerous.

Watch out for rip currents. A rip current is a dangerous condition where the water pulls you away from shore. If you get caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shoreline until you are out of the current, then swim to shore.

Always wear a life jacket when boating, jet skiing, water skiing, rafting, or fishing.

Never dive into shallow water. If you don’t know how deep the water is, don’t dive.

Learn the meaning of colored safety flags used at the beach, and obey all warnings. If you’re unsure, speak to a lifeguard.

There’s no better way to beat the heat of summer than a day on the water. But it’s never fun when someone gets hurt. Putting the safety of your kids first is the best way to make sure your summer is filled with joy.

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The medical information contained on this article is general in nature and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for the advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by your own physician or a qualified healthcare provider. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with your own physician or a qualified healthcare provider. Although every effort is made to ensure the information provided is accurate and timely, it is provided for convenience and should not be considered official.

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