Swimming, fishing, canoeing, boating, skiing, and even floating on a tube are all great family activities. If your family spends time in or near water, it is critical that everyone practice water safety. One of the most important things you can do is learn and apply 5 ways to keep your kids safe around water listed below.
Children aged one to four have the greatest drowning rates in the United States. According to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, 87 children drowned in Texas in 2019, with more than half being under the age of four. You can help keep everyone safe around water by participating in water safety activities and learning how to recognize dangers before they occur.
#1 Water Safety Tip: Always Employ a Water Watcher.
Water safety for children begins with a responsible adult acting as the Water Watcher whenever tiny children swim or near water, even when lifeguards are present. Based on the number of children present, you can determine whether you need more than one Water Watcher.
Being a Water Watcher is a serious profession, and the watcher should observe the following water safety guidelines:
- Maintain your concentration. There is no time for multitasking. A book, phone, or other adult should not be used to distract the Water Watcher.
- Ascertain that the observer is an adult. Older children should never be assigned the role of Water Watcher.
- Pay extra care to inexperienced swimmers. The Water Watcher should be within arm’s reach of any new swimmers or non-swimmers.
- Learn about water safety. Choose a Water Watcher who has had water safety training and is familiar with CPR if possible.
- First, check the water. If a youngster goes missing, the first place to check is in the water.
- Keep a phone close by. While the Water Watcher should not be on their phone, a phone should be kept close in case of an emergency.
- Never abandon the post. The Water Watcher must remain on duty until relieved by another watcher.
Water Safety Tip #2: Avoid Using Water Toys
Water wings, noodles, floaties, and inner tubes should never be used to protect weak swimmers. Toys made of air or foam are not safety devices and are not intended to keep swimmers safe. The only water safety equipment certified to protect children are those recognized by the United States Coast Guard.
Children must wear life jackets whenever they are on a boat, dock, or near a body of water. The law requires all children under the age of 12 to wear a life jacket when boating, and for a good reason: studies suggest that life jackets might have avoided half of all boating deaths. Furthermore, life jackets are only effective when properly worn.
- Check that the life jacket is the correct size.
- Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines – all straps should be tightened, and the life jacket should not be sloppy.
- Adults should set a good example by wearing a life jacket whenever they are on a boat.
Water Safety Tip #3: Take Swimming Lessons
Swimming lessons are one of the most effective water safety activities you can undertake to protect your children. Formal swimming lessons have been demonstrated in studies to minimize the risk of drowning in children aged one to four years. It doesn’t have to be pricey; check for free or low-cost swim lessons in your region at your local community center or YMCA.
Look for programs that have qualified teachers who teach basic skills and water safety. Depending on your child’s age and ability, you may wish to begin with mommy-and-me or daddy-and-me lessons in which parents engage alongside their children. These parent + toddler sessions are often aimed at promoting swim readiness in children under the age of four.
Swim lessons or water safety training are required by the age of four. Don’t let your guard down once your child has taken swim lessons; even if children have had official swimming lessons, adult monitoring is still an important aspect of water safety for children.
Water Safety Tip #4: Use Caution at Public Pools
Public pools are a terrific way to fight the summer heat, but keep the presence of a lifeguard from fooling you into believing you don’t need to be attentive. When your family is at a public pool, it is still crucial to be vigilant and designate an adult as the Water Watcher.
Even if you’ve discussed water safety with your children, don’t assume they’ll exercise good judgment and caution around the pool – kids will be kids. Kids may prefer to be dropped off at the pool as they become older, but it’s always ideal to have an adult Water Watcher present.
Keep an eye out for pool drains.
Teach children to avoid pool drains. Pool drains use suction to filter the water, and drains trap youngsters under water. To prevent unintentional drownings, government regulations now require all pools to have safety drain covers, but you can’t always be sure they’re in place, so a wonderful kid’s water safety advice is to stay away from the drains.
Water Safety Tip #5: Exercise Caution Around Open Water
Texas has abundant gorgeous creeks, ponds, lakes, rivers, and beaches where you may spend time with your family. Make sure to discuss water safety with your children before going to an outdoor water location. Make sure your children understand how vital it is to observe all the regulations and never swim or play in the water alone; always go with a partner. When you arrive at your recreation area, designate an adult to be the Water Watcher.
Dos and Don’ts in Open Water
Pay attention to signs and swimming area boundaries, and make sure you obey the area’s special water safety rules.
Do’s – Inform your youngster of the following:
- Always swim with a buddy—this applies to adults as well.
- Keep to the approved swimming area.
- Keep an eye out for swim condition flags or notices.
- Always enter the water with your feet first.
- Always wear a life jacket when on a boat or swimming in open water.
- Keep an eye out for currents. If one of them gets stuck in a stream, the others will swim alongside it until they can free themselves.
- Allow children of any age to roughhouse or race over water.
- Allow children to swim around boats or other watercraft.
- Allow children to swim in murky water or near drop-offs.
- Never allow your youngster to dive off a swim platform or into the murky water.
- Tell your youngster not to play or swim in ponds, streams, gullies, ditches, or canals, among other places.
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