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 nine water safety tips to keep everyone safe this swim season.
1. Teach kids to 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 likely say yes, but you need 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. Lifeguards don’t just watch people in the water, 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 for both children and adults. Make sure your child knows that they should always swim with a friend or sibling 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 immediately after use
If you don’t have an in-ground pool, you may have a small kiddie pool for your little ones. 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 during a time when swimming isn’t supposed to go on.
4. Enroll your child in swim lessons
This may seem like an obvious tip, but make sure your children are enrolled in at least the basic swim classes, so they learn proper technique and water safety. 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, plus they’ll learn water safety tips from certified instructors. Enroll in beginner swim lessons at the YMCA for all ages today!
5. Fully Supervise
When your child is in the pool, it’s your job to be fully attentive and supervise the entire time. According to the International Life Saving Federation, 60% of youth drowning incidents occur within 10 feet of safety. This means that they could have been saved quickly if enough attention had been paid to the swimmer. Drowning can happen quickly and quietly, such as when you go inside to get a drink or just lie out on your phone. When your children are swimming, commit to giving them your full attention and maybe even jump in the water with them!
6. Don’t play breath-holding games
Kids love playing games in the water, from diving for different objects to seeing who can stay underwater the longest. Discourage this behavior, as holding your breath for too long can increase the chances of passing out. The same goes for hyperventilating before going underwater. Allow your children to 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.
7. 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.
8. Teach safe ways to enter the pool
Many 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, don’t allow it.
9. Follow the rules
Pool rules are there for a reason but educate your children on why you should be following them. Be honest with your child about why they need to wear a life jacket and explain why they should never swim without adult supervision. Help them to understand the importance of water safety and adhering to the rules so they can have a fun and safe summer and swimming season.
Adhere to these safety tips to keep your children safe in the water this summer. Always use common sense and be over-attentive rather than under-attentive. The YMCA of Greater Cincinnati is here to help your kids learn how to swim in a safe environment so they can spend the summer having fun and you can rest easy.