A vacation to an exotic beach destination is a dream getaway every family hopes for. What’s not to love about spending a few weeks at a sandy beach with calm and clear waters that’s safe for swimming? Sometimes the water is so clear one can see the pebbled bottom. But even though waters look calm and pretty, they still present dangers to young children. So while they are off relaxing, parents can never relax their vigilance.
According to professional lifeguards, kids should be supervised constantly. Watch them entering and leaving pools, watch them swimming, and watch how deeply they wade. Watch them playing on beaches where tides and undertows can change things in a flash. One lifeguard supervisor stresses that whenever possible, a parent should not only watch, but be right there next to his or her child.
Be Informed for Safer Swimming
Besides being observant, parents also need to aware – aware of their child’s swimming ability for starters. Knowing how to float, tread water, breathe and swim, are all essential to water safety. Parents can also build awareness with tips from sources like The Swim for Life Foundation, a national organization dedicated to drowning prevention, or Johnson & Johnson health programs.
Here are more swim safety tips every family should practice:
- Stay in areas of a lake, ocean or pool where a lifeguard is present (if there is no guard, only swim with a qualified buddy)
- Read the depth markers on pools and check if the child’s feet can touch the bottom
- Get swimming instruction from a Red Cross certified program (most gyms teach children to swim as early as eighteen months of age)
- Learn about jellyfish and teach kids how to spot them and avoid stings ( as well as where to go and what to do should someone get stung)
- Consult hotel staff or local news to learn the water temperature, and about possible natural/weather hazards
- Never dive into shallow pool waters or from the shore of a lake
- Differentiate a toy from a swim aid. Only use approved flotation devices when swimming and boating
- Keep calm, composed, and confident. Panic only increases the possibility of drowning
These rules are good for families on vacation. When the family has a pool at home, many of the same rules apply. Families that own pools must also secure the pool area – with a fence, lock, cover and/or alarm.
Another way to keep water safety in mind is with the term Safer Three. Its three elements are Safer Water, Safer Kids and Safer Response. Safer Water is about observing and fencing in pools and water play areas, Safer Kids is about teaching kids safety rules and getting them swim instruction. Safer Response encompasses learning CPR and educating youngsters to contact 9-1-1 Emergency Services personnel.
Remember, packing gets a family ready for a vacation, but there are other ways to fully prepare for a trip. Make sure safe swimming rules are part of the family vacation plans. Then everyone can really relax and have a good time.