Those lazy hazy days of summer are here! As the temperature rises, your kids will no doubt enjoy plenty of water activities — from splash pads to backyard pools and lakes. My fondest summer memories include being in the water. My parents could anticipate the question before I even asked: “Can we go swimming?” It really wasn’t a question as it was a demand!
While fun in the water makes for great memories and photo opportunities, it’s important to keep safety top-of-mind. According to the Canadian Red Cross, drowning is one of the leading causes of unintentional death for Canadian children ages one to four and every year almost 60 children drown.
Here are some tips to help you and your family splash and be safe.
- Lessons. Enroll your kids in swimming lessons. While they may not always be enough to save a life, these skills could help prevent an emergency — this goes for parents too (it’s never too late to enroll)! It’s also a good idea to take a combined CPR and first aid course. These are offered by certified instructors across the country.
- Supervision. Never leave children alone or unattended while they’re in or near the water. Keep younger children within arm’s reach. A young child can drown in just a few centimetres of water in seconds.
- Personal flotation devices (PFDs). Sure, those inflatable minions may be cute and those floating lounge chairs are downright relaxing, but they’re not meant to keep children afloat. Use approved personal flotation devices for young and inexperienced swimmers. Make sure they are in good working order and fit correctly. Don’t rely solely on the weight listed on a PFD label.
- Safety equipment. Keep lifesaving equipment by the pool including a safety ring with a rope, a reaching pole, a phone, and a first aid kit.
- Fence it in. Enclose your pool with a fence that has a self-closing and self-latching gate. Refer to your municipal bylaws for specific requirements like fence height. It’s not just for safety; it’s the law!
- Play with care. Cannonballs and water guns go hand-in-hand with pool play. Just make sure your kids exercise general safety in and around the pool like no running on the deck (I can still hear my swim teacher’s voice in my head to this day!), no pushing, no dunking, and so on.
- Diving. Do not let your child dive into the water head first unless he or she is properly trained and the water is deep enough. Very few residential pools are safe for diving, so make it a rule to enter feet first.
- Drains. Tell your children to stay away from pool drains as they can trap hair, loose swim gear, fingers, and toes. Tie your child’s hair back and remove jewelry. Encourage swim caps -they come in cool funky colours! Make sure drain covers are regularly checked by professionals.
- When not in use. When your pool is not in use, put away patio furniture or large items that kids could use to boost themselves over the fence; put away toys that could attract young children to the pool; remove ladders from above-ground pools; ensure that any gates and house doors with access to the pool area are securely locked, and drain wading pools.
- Swimming at a friend’s house. If your child is going swimming at a friend’s house, speak to the parents ahead of time to ensure you’re all on the same page in terms of pool rules. Also make sure that the kids will be supervised at all times and that they will have access to PFDs.
- Swimming in open water. There are additional considerations to keep in mind when swimming in open water. The Red Cross recommends checking weather conditions before going out into the water, obeying signs that indicate if it’s safe to swim, and being aware of currents, water temperature, waves, and depth.
- General health safety. Apply sunscreen (and reapply every two to three hours). Also, keep well hydrated.
With these tips in mind, here’s to countless hours of enjoyment and family fun by the sparkling blue water!
Any tips you’d like to add to the list? Let us know in the comments below!