Swimming is a fun activity to do in the hot summer months but it can also be a year-round activity and many don’t realize how dangerous swimming can be without careful preparation.
The scary truth is that drowning is the #2 leading cause of death for kids aged 5-14. It’s important to educate parents, grandparents, and care givers of children the basics of year-round water safety. When a parent takes the time to equip their kids with essential water safety skills, they are setting them up for a safe and enjoyable water experience every time.
Top 10 Water Safety Tips for Families
Before taking your kids to the pool, beach, or lake shore, teach them the 10 basics of water safety.
1. Never Swim Alone
Swimming should ONLY happen when a lifeguard is on duty. Lifeguards don’t just watch the water. They advise swimmers on safety concerns and questionable water conditions when they arise. They are able to respond quickly when something happens.
2. Supervise Children When They’re in the Water
When your children are in the water, it’s time to be alert. A general rule is to stay within an arm’s reach of a young child at all times. This rule is true whether they are in the pool, lake, ocean or bathtub. Even children that are strong swimmers should be watched carefully because they can try tricks or dives that may be dangerous in the water. The best way to make sure your child is safe in the water is to put your phones away and if other adults are nearby, ask to take turns monitoring children in the water. Working together to protect your children is the best way to prevent an unforeseen accident.
3. Don’t Play Breath Holding Games
Children should not hold their breath for long periods of time when they are swimming. This can cause drowning and possible other severe risks. If a swimmer holds their breath for too long, they could hyperventilate before going under water. This can lead to them breathing harder and faster which could potentially lead to a higher risk of them passing out under water. Educate your children about why competing to hold your breath under water can be dangerous and should not be done around water-related activities. Competitive swimmers should learn breathing techniques to avoid problems during practices or swim meets.
4. Always Wear A Life Vest
Young children or beginner swimmers should always wear a Coast-Guard certified life vest around ANY water. Water wings, pool floaties, and noodles ARE NOT substitutes for life preservers in a genuine emergency. Use these only when a parent or adult is within one arm’s length distance of the child. Also remember that IN ADDITION to a life jacket, water safety guidelines should be followed and a life vest alone is not enough when it comes to water safety.
5. Don’t Jump In The Water to Save a Friend
If a child sees their friend struggling in the water, they should not jump in to help them. This could lead to two potential drownings. It is recommended to follow the “reach, throw, don’t go” technique which involves using a long object to pull the other child to safety. This way the child can help their friend without putting themselves at risk.
6. Enter the Water Feet First
A child should learn the proper way to enter and exit the water. Educate your children not to jump or dive in shallow water which could lead to severe injuries. If they are interested in doing so make sure they identify the safe and designated areas to do so. If there are no designated diving areas, don’t allow it.
7. Stay Away from Pool Drains
Teach children to stay away from drains in the pool. A bathing suit, their hair, or limbs could get stuck in broken or faulty drains. This could lead to serious injuries or drownings. If you notice a pool drain not operating correctly, report it immediately.
8. Stay Within Designated Swim Areas
Educate children about designated swim areas that are marked with ropes, buoys, or signs if in the pool, lake, or ocean. Never encourage kids to swim in water deeper than their abilities allow. Follow local guidelines lifeguards have established especially in the lake or ocean. They know enough about how the water changes from day to day and are able to make wise and up to date safety recommendations.
9. Avoid Using Alcohol
This is especially important for adults to note that alcohol impairs judgment, coordination, and balance. It can effect a great swimmer’s ability to swim well and lowers body temperature. If you are a parent monitoring a child in the water, you should not be drinking alcohol while doing so. It can cause you to become distracted and unable to function if an emergency would happen.
10. Learn CPR
While safety guidelines are important to follow to keep you and your family safe in and around the water, unfortunately accidents do happen. If a drowning or pool related incident would occur, the first persons to react and respond are usually the bystanders. As a parent, it is essential to become familiar with life saving techniques, including CPR. Knowing how to perform CPR can be the difference between life and death. Get your CPR certification through the American Red Cross, local hospital, or other community organizations.
Teach Your Kids to Be Safe In the Water
Many times, parents listen to these rules and guidelines and internalize them and react on them without ever educating their children why they are doing them. Teach your kids why they are wearing a life vest, why they should never swim alone or without a parent, and why they should stay out of deep and murky water. Educating your kids early on about why we use water safety guidelines will help them understand and apply them as they grow.
Protection if you Own a Pool – Do I need an Umbrella Policy?
Owning a pool can be so much fun because you are able to use it basically any time you want. What happens if you have friends over who have kids and an accident happens in your own backyard water oasis? You could potentially incur medical or legal expenses if a guest becomes injured in your pool. Liability protection is a standard part of a typical homeowner’s policy. Because a pool can increase your liability risk you may want to increase your coverage. To add an extra layer of protection, pool owners should consider purchasing a personal umbrella policy. This will provide the insured with liability coverage above the limits of a homeowners policy. Umbrella protection begins when you’ve exhausted the required underlying insurance amount of your homeowner’s policy.
If you have a pool or are planning to install one, it is important to let you insurance agent know. They will want to review your insurance coverage with you to make sure you have the proper protection in place.
Stay Alert, Stay Informed, Stay Protected
Monitor kids at all times when in and around all types of water. Stay informed with water safety guidelines and educate your kids on why they are important. If you own a pool or plan to own one in the near future, make sure to reach out to your insurance agent to make sure you are properly covered in case an incident may arise.