4 Water Safety Tips for a Stress-Free Summer

By John Rose, June 16, 2014, Events & Fun

4 Water Safety Tips to Help You Enjoy SummerSummer is upon us and, for those of us in Texas, that means the heat is here. Don’t get me wrong, I am a heat-lover. I would much rather be warm than cold, but then I became a stay-at-home dad with an active little boy. I quickly realized that 100-plus degree temperatures and metal playground equipment don’t mix, and while indoor activities are great, nothing quite beats a cool dip in the water this season. So, let’s go over the top tips for enjoying family time in the water as safely as possible.

1) I almost didn’t want to post this one, because it is something you should already know, but seriously – wear sunscreen. Too many of us neglect this simple step. I don’t need to harp on you about the pain of a sunburn, the danger to your health, and the aging effect on your skin, but I do want to put this little reminder out there. The reflective surface of the water actually makes it easier to burn, and the delightful cool feeling of the water on your skin makes it harder to feel the burn growing, so before you know it, your skin has turned a shade of lobster. Make sure to apply sunscreen to the whole family and reapply regularly.

4 Water Safety Tips to Help You Enjoy Summer2) Whether your water time is in the pool, at the beach, on a boat, or in your backyard, I would really recommend that the whole family takes swimming lessons. Children wander where they shouldn’t: they slip, they fall, and it only takes a moment for things to get dangerous. Swimming lessons save lives, and there are even classes, such as ISR (Infant Swimming Resource) that show toddlers and infants the simple skills of how to roll onto their backs and float until help arrives.

3) While it’s something we take for granted, choose a public pool or beach with a lifeguard on duty. These places can become very crowded, and conditions can change in an instant. These folks are professionals whose very job is to keep you safe. They also know exactly what signs show that someone is in trouble in the water. I would encourage everyone to review the signs of drowning. Drowning is often silent, with little apparent struggle on the surface. That’s right – Baywatch lied to you, as it is extremely unlikely a victim will call or wave for help. My research indicated that drowning was the second cause of accidental death among children, just after car accidents. Be vigilant and choose the safest environment.

4) The safety precautions you take depend upon your environment. Let’s unpack that statement a bit to account for 2 different examples:

  • On the beach, make sure you know what the beach warning flag system means. This system is designed to keep you safe and if they indicate there are dangerous conditions present, then you should pack the family back into the car and find something else to entertain them. I am afraid that this likely means your toddler will scream, your teenager may declare a “lifelong hate for you,” but this too will pass. Be aware that these flags are not universal, so if you travel to new territory makes sure you are familiar with their warning system. Also, know the limitations of these systems, they usually only pertain to dangerous wildlife (sharks, for example) and general surf conditions.  The presence of rip currents, a very dangerous beach hazard, are not taken into account.
  • 4 Water Safety Tips to Help You Enjoy SummerIf you are lucky enough to be jetting through the water on a boat, you should first feel free to send an invite this way. Secondly, you need to be aware that there are many more requirements for boating safety. Every person must have a life jacket on board that fits them correctly. Adult-sized life jackets are not a suitable substitute “in a pinch” for children. Even if you spend just one day a year on the water, each child and adult must have a snugly fitting (your chin and ears should not be able to slip through) life jacket available for their use. What’s more, you should be wearing the life jacket at all times – yes, even if you are wearing the most fabulous swimsuit. Make sure any life jacket you do purchase is US Coast Guard approved and consider investing in a life jacket for any young swimmer in your family for all other water activities as well.

No matter where and how you enjoy water activities this summer, it’s important to have fun, but you should remember that preparations for these situations (as tedious as they might appear) absolutely will save lives and allow you to maximize your deliciously cool time in the water. Water safety really does equal summer fun!

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