Beyond the general water-safety guidelines, there are particular precautions you should take when you are around pools, lakes and rivers, and boats.
POOLS: Create a safe environment.
Experts recommend erecting a five-foot fence around all pool areas (legally required in some states). The gate must be self-closing and childproof. As an added deterrent, a bright red STOP sign on the gate may be placed. Choose a fence with closely spaced vertical pickets or very small chain links to discourage climbing. Also, stow all lawn furniture away from the fence to prevent children from using it as a booster.
Keep floats, long reach poles,and other rescue equipment handy, and practice using them with your children. Always keep your pool covered when not in use – and choose a safe cover. Plastic tarps tend to collect water, creating a drowning hazard. Floating covers, usually made of styrofoam and not attached to the sides of the pool are also dangerous; kids can get trapped underneath. The kind of cover that’s safe, is one that is anchored to the sides of the pool on tracks and automatically retracts by pushing a button.
LAKES and RIVERS: Beware of hidden dangers.
Even the most appealing watering holes can be treacherous to young swimmers. In early spring and summer, icy water temperatures can trigger cramps and breathing problems. Check the water temperature beforehand. Anything under 60ºF should be off limits.
Wade through the water first to be sure it’s safe; there may be trouble underfoot. Look out for broken glass, rusty pop tops, andother debris. Keep feet protected by insisting your kids wear water shoes. Some creeks and rivers have currents strong enough to topple small children, or bottoms that drop off precipitously. Water that’s waist-high one moment can be above your head the next.
BOATS: Always use lifejackets.
Choose only Coast Guard-approved jackets, have the whole family wear them, and test them regularly for punctures and waterlogging. Most jackets are designed to flip you onto your back and keep you afloat. It is advisable to let kids wear life jackets in the water so they’ll be familiar with the feeling in the event of a boating accident.
Fundamentals of Water Safety
1. Supervise, supervise. Never let a child go near or in the water alone.
2. All preswimmers and nonswimmers should wear a Coast Guard-approved vest when around the water.
3. Never dive into shallow water.
4. No rough play in the water.
5. Stay away from water during thunderstorms and threatening weather.
Always remember, water can be a lot of fun once you and your kids develop a healthy respect for its power. Water safety can be learned by anyone without taking any of the joy out of summer.