Summer is here and your children will want to be playing in the water. Whether you are at the beach, lake or backyard pool, teaching your family water safety rules will help to keep them safe. Children between 1-4 years old and men from 15-44 are at the greatest risk of drowning according to the Red Cross. Be very clear about the rules and repeat them often so children understand exactly what to do.
Children should always swim with a friend or be accompanied by an adult (depending on their age). Be sure that they know who to contact in the event of an accident.
If you need to leave the swimming area for any reason, get everyone out of the water. Don’t rely on older children to supervise younger ones in the bath or pool.
No glass in or around the pool. A broken glass or bottle can be impossible to see under the water and can cause serious injury.
Children shouldn’t dive into any body of water that hasn’t been thoroughly investigated and approved by an adult. Obstacles may be hidden under the water in lakes and rivers that could cause injury. Check that pools are deep enough for diving before allowing children to do so.
Teach basic water rescue techniques so children can help injured friends from the water before they go for help.
Teach your children to be good swimmers as soon as possible. They need to wear floatation devices until they can competently swim unaided.
Every year, go over swimming rules and teach them rescue and first aid techniques. As they get older, you can expand this knowledge and be sure to refresh their memories (and your own) at the start of each swimming season.
If your children are swimming in open water, ensure that there are no strong currents that could sweep them away or drag them under.
Teach children how to deal with a strong current; instead of fighting it they should roll over on their backs and float feet first to avoid hitting hidden objects with their heads. When they are out of the worst current, they should swim to shore and get help.
If the boat you or your children are traveling in has capsized, hang onto the upstream end until you are out of strong currents and then swim to shore.
Of course pool time also means sunblock and hats so make sure your kids know to have these on at all times and to reapply sunblock after towelling themselves dry.
Have a first aid kit nearby and ensure that your kids know where to find emergency numbers on your phone or on their own.
Even competent swimmers can get into trouble so don’t leave children unsupervised and don’t let them swim alone. Lack of adult supervision is a contributing factor in most child drownings, so ensure that your children know that they aren’t allowed to swim if an adult isn’t present.