Water safety at home and on vacation

Summer is an exciting time to enjoy going to beach, swimming in a pool, or taking a vacation. We need to keep in mind that water can be very dangerous if we do not take precautions.

We spoke with Tracy Martin-Turgeon from The Children’s Workshop for the following advice to help us stay safe this summer:

Wind can feel nice on a hot day at the beach, but wind generates waves; the stronger the wind, the higher the waves. You want to ask the lifeguard on duty about rip tides and currents. Rip currents are very powerful and can pull you under the water in a blink of an eye. If you are taking a vacation somewhere in the United States, you may find flags on beaches that indicate basic warnings such as the following:

  • If you see double red flags, this means it is too dangerous to swim.
  • If you see one red flag, this means that conditions are not safe, but you can swim staying close to shore.
  • If you see a yellow flag, this indicates moderate conditions and you should not venture too far out.
  • A green flag means that conditions are good for swimmers.

Not all beaches do this, but it is good to know what they mean. If the particular beach you are on does not use this flag system, ask a lifeguard what the conditions in the water are that day.

Drowning is silent and quick. Some statistics show that children have drowned only 25 yards from shore. This is real and it is scary. This can be on vacation or in your own back yard. When a child or person is having difficulty in the water, most cannot wave their arms because they are trying to stay above water. Swimmers can only struggle for about 20-60 seconds before going under again. It is imperative that you are in arms reach and you know where the lifeguards are. Knowing CPR would also be beneficial.

While on vacation, take frequent breaks in the water. Exhaustion, sunburn, and heat stroke are common problems because you are going and going. Children should be in arms reach at all time’s; it only takes a second for something to happen.

Children need to have constant supervision at all times. It only takes two inches of water to do a lifetime of damage to your family. Supervision is not only encouraged around pools, but beaches, ponds, and believe it or not, even toilets depending on the age of your child.

Life jackets are essential and should fit properly on your child. Check your child’s weight. If your child is under 5 years old, you should invest in a life jacket that has strap between their legs and head support. These will help keep your child’s head above water. You should not put a life jacket on a child that is under the required weight or put a smaller one on a child that is bigger. This will not help your child float in the water and their face may not stay out of the water.

It is an excellent idea to have your child take swim classes. If you are not good at swimming, it is a not a bad idea to take a lesson or two with them for support. Just enough to get you both comfortable in and around water. Many places will have Mommy and Me classes to help you feel comfortable with your child in the water. Our Warren facility is putting a Mommy and Me class together – contact them for more information. You want to teach children water safety whether you are on vacation, in your back yard, or at the beach. It only takes seconds when it comes to water and an accident. Don’t assume that your child is okay because they have a life vest on or have taken swim lessons.

Accident Prevention – Learning CPR and First Aid, keeping gates locked or alarms in pools in case a child falls in the alarm will sound, being mindful of your surroundings (not just water, but wild life depending on where you are vacationing), look at signs, and ask questions.

Overall, take precautions, be alert, and make sure you are aware of the dangers of the water. If water is near, whether it is a small body of water or a large one, keep water safety a priority and enjoy the sun!

Resources: Parents, Kids Health, American Red Cross

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