Water Safety Tips Every Parent Should Know

As temperatures finally start to rise here in the Pikes Peak region, families flock to swimming pools, reservoirs, and rivers to beat the heat. When safety is top of mind, water activities offer countless hours of fun and enjoyment for children. Because drowning incidents are most common when lifeguards and instructors are absent, it’s important to us to share critical water safety measures with our families as an extension of our programs.

Constant Supervision

There is no replacement for supervision when it comes to water safety, regardless of how strong or seasoned the swimmer. When children are in or near water, supervising them is the top priority. Always assign a responsible adult as the designated “Water Watcher” who will actively monitor children without any distractions, including electronic devices or actively playing alongside swimmers. Remember, drowning incidents can occur within seconds and are often silent, so constant supervision is crucial.

Teach Basic Water Skills

Of course, we recommend early enrollment in a learn to swim program! These lessons can provide even the youngest swimmers with basic water skills and help them gain confidence while maintaining a healthy respect for water safety rules. Even swimmers who aren’t ready to master freestyle can learn to become comfortable submerging, gain breath control, roll to their back, and find an exit – all crucial toward drowning prevention. However, it is important to note that no swimmer is ever fully “water safe,” no matter how many lessons they’ve taken. Even if your child is a strong swimmer, they should still be supervised and follow the other safety guidelines mentioned here.

Use Appropriate Safety Equipment

Ensure that your child wears U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets or personal flotation devices (PFDs) especially when near open water, regardless of their swim ability. Inflatable toys or arm floaties are not substitutes for life jackets and can, in fact, make swimmers less safe because they create a sense of false security and allow children to topple into awkward positions becoming entrapped. Choose approved life jackets that are the correct size for your child and have a secure fit.

Secure Pools and Water Features

If you or someone you’re visiting has a swimming pool or a water feature at home, it is crucial to have multiple layers of protection. Fences around the pool area with self-latching gates and door alarms are an important first measure. Removing any ladders or objects that could potentially provide inviting access to the pool is another. Additionally, consider using pool covers or alarms that can alert you to any unexpected pool entry.

Educate Your Child on Water Safety Rules

Teach your child basic water safety rules to follow whenever they are near bodies of water. Emphasize the importance of not running around pool areas, not diving into shallow water, and not pushing or dunking others while playing in the water. Establish a family rule about never entering water without being invited in by their grown-up. Discuss the importance of swimming where lifeguards and “water watching” grown-ups are present. Develop a family safety plan in the event of an emergency – be sure to emphasize that children should never try to rescue someone by getting in the water with them and should instead throw floatation devices or use a long stick to help someone in distress. Finally, discuss that, if these options aren’t helpful, they should always run to find a grown-up and/or call 911.

Be Cautious of Open Water

When swimming in natural bodies of water, such as reservoirs or oceans, exercise extra caution. These environments can have unpredictable currents, sudden drop-offs, and hidden hazards. Choose designated swimming areas with lifeguards whenever possible. Teach your child how to sweep their legs in search of obstructions and about rip currents and how to escape them by swimming parallel to the shore until they are out of its pull.

Always equip your swimmers with U.S. Coast Guard approved PFDs when engaging in water sports – like boating, kayaking, and SUPing. It is recommended that anyone engaging in these activities wear a PFD regardless of age, comfort, and swim ability. When adults wear these devices, it encourages children to do the same, but it also ensures everyone’s safety in the event of an emergency.

Be Prepared for Emergencies

Even with all precautions in place, accidents can still happen. Make sure you are prepared by learning CPR and basic water rescue techniques. Keep a phone nearby to call for help in case of an emergency. Remember that every second counts during a water-related incident.

Water safety is a vital aspect of parenting, especially during the summer months. By following these essential water safety tips, parents can significantly reduce the risk of drowning incidents and ensure that their children have a safe and enjoyable experience in and around water. Remember, constant supervision, teaching basic water skills, using appropriate safety equipment, securing pools, and educating your child about water safety rules are key to keeping your child safe. By being prepared and vigilant, you can create lifelong memories!

Jaecie Montgomery | Program Operations Manager

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