No matter where you live, chances are that there is a community pool, a water park, or even a body of water nearby – and summertime is a great excuse to go swimming! In addition to putting on plenty of sunscreen and knowing swimming basics, there is quite a lot to be aware of before you dip your toes in the water. That’s because in Canada, the past 10 years of unintentional drowning data shows that children most commonly (34%) drown at private residences and recreational properties. The second most frequent location was parks and conservation areas, where 13% of children drowned. While water is fun, it can also be dangerous if you don’t know safety basics. That’s why this month, we want to refresh your swimming safety knowledge. Read on for some tips to put into practise this summer and every time you go swimming.
- Make sure that your children are introduced to swimming in a controlled environment. Swimming lessons at your local gym or aquatic center are a great way to introduce little ones to water–and increase their knowledge around swimming safely.
- When possible, swim in an area where there is a lifeguard on duty. Often, there are lifeguards on duty at public pools and waterparks. There may also be lifeguards on duty at the ocean or other local bodies of water.
- Always swim with a buddy. This includes not only children, but also adults. The buddy system is a great tool at both the community pool or in the ocean.
- Never let small children go into the water alone. Additionally, you should never let one child escort another into a body of water. An adult who has swimming knowledge should always accompany children in the water. Children should be taught, from a young age, to ask for permission to go into pools or bodies of water.
- Insure that life vests are worn by less experienced swimmers. While a life vest alone is not enough to insure a child’s safety in water, it could help prevent accidents. Life vests can be found at your local home store.
- Do your research. Rivers, lakes, and oceans can be powerful forces. Tides, undertow, and even currents can be deadly if you or a child is caught off guard. Always obey signage regarding dangerous water.
- Do not mix alcohol and swimming. This is not only for your safety, but also for the safety of any small children that may be under your care. Alcohol can impair your judgement, balance, and coordination. This is a dangerous combination when you are near water.
There are additional ways to promote water safety. If you have a pool at your home (including small, inflatable pools you get from your local home store) make sure you place barriers around it. Children should not have access to the water without a supervising adult present. Remove any ladders or playground equipment a child may use to gain pool access. Finally, don’t forget to keep all pool toys, including floaties, out of sight and reach of children. This summer, keep your loved ones safe from pool or water-related accidents. Don’t forget that nothing helps to prevent water-related accidents more than knowledge and good supervision.