The weather is warming up and summer is just around the corner, which means countless days of poolside fun are on the horizon. While swimming can be a great way to exercise and spend time with friends and family, it can also be dangerous if you’re not prepared. Here are our top ten water safety tips to keep everyone safe this swim season.
1. Always Ask Permission
Whether it’s your home’s pool, a water park or a lake, instill in your children that they should ask permission before going near the water. Let them know that you’ll probably say yes, but you need to be informed and have enough time to get prepared to watch them and be proactive. Teaching kids early on to ask permission will help them have a better understanding that safety comes first before they can jump in.
2. Never Swim Alone
Ideally, you shouldn’t swim unless a lifeguard is present. A lifeguard does more than just watch people swimming, they also watch the water itself to monitor conditions and safety concerns. However, there may be some situations where a lifeguard isn’t on duty, such as your personal pool. As a general rule of thumb, stick to the buddy system whenever getting in the water. Make sure your child knows that they should always swim with a friend so they can look out for each other if there’s no adult physically in the pool with them. That way, if something goes wrong, there is someone there who can go get help.
3. Empty Kiddie Pools After Use
As the weather heats up, your kids probably want to spend more time outside and in the water. If you don’t have a full in-ground pool, a great option is to just get a small kiddie pool for your little ones. But make sure that once pool time is over, there is someone assigned to emptying out the pool. This will prevent any accidents from happening while an adult isn’t supervising because swimming isn’t supposed to go on.
4. Fully supervise
When your child is in the pool, it’s your job to be fully attentive and supervise the entire time. 60% of youth drowning incidents occur within 10 feet of safety. This means that they could have been saved quickly if they were being properly supervised. Drowning can happen quickly and quietly, such as when you go inside to get something or just lie out on your phone. When your children are swimming, commit to giving them your full attention and even jump in the water with them!
5. Don’t Go Crazy with Games
Kids love playing games in the water, from diving for different objects to seeing who can stay underwater the longest. Discourage any sort of breath-holding games, as holding your breath for too long can increase chances of passing out. The same goes for hyperventilating before going underwater. Of course, kids can have fun in the water, but if they get too riled up and out of breath, have them take a break until they can get their breathing back to normal.
6. Wear a lifejacket
Young or inexperienced swimmers should always wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket in and around the water. There are many products on the market that claim to help children stay afloat, such as floaties or pool noodles, but only a life jacket is suitable to protect them in an emergency. Keep in mind that lifejackets alone are not enough when it comes to staying safe; it should always be paired with adherence to water safety guidelines.
7. Teach How to Enter the Pool
A lot of serious injuries can occur when kids jump or dive into shallow water. Educate your children on how to safely enter and exit the pool, using steps or a ladder unless they are in a designated diving area. If your pool doesn’t have a specified area for diving, stay on the safe side and just don’t allow it.
8. Enroll Your Child in Swim Lessons
This may seem like one of the more obvious tips, but make sure your children are enrolled in at least the basic swim classes, so they learn proper technique and water safety from certified instructors. They should be able to keep themselves afloat, swim around enough to have fun and know what to do if they find themselves in the water unexpectedly. Having formal lessons will teach your child fundamentals that they will keep with them for the rest of their lives. Enroll in beginner swim lessons at the YMCA for all ages today!
9. Avoid Pool Drains
Hair, bathing suits and other items can become stuck in broken or faulty drains, which can lead to drowning or injury, no matter how good of a swimmer you are. Teach children to stay away from pool drains, especially if it’s missing a cover or appears broken. If you notice one that is broken, report it immediately.
10. Follow the Rules
Pool rules exist for a reason and you should educate your children on why they should be following them. Be honest with your child about the reasoning behind them wearing a life jacket and explain why they should never swim without adult supervision. Help them to understand the importance of water safety and adhere to these tips so they can have a fun and safe summer and swimming season!