Drowning is the second most common cause of accidental death of children (under the age of 14). It can happen within 20-30 seconds. Can you believe it?
Being a father, I can’t stand the idea of anything happening to my kids. It is a scary statistic every parent should know. Besides knowing, we all need to prevent it from happening! This is why I wrote this water safety guide for children, and I hope you’ll find it helpful.
General water safety
The risk of injuring or drowning in the water for children is very high, regardless of where you are – at the beach or your home pool. Drowning can happen even in a bathtub, toilet, or a bucket filled with just a couple of inches of water. That’s why water safety should be a priority number for every parent. How? There are certain things you need to be aware of.
One of the most important things to keep your child safe around or in the water is supervision. You should never leave your kid swimming or playing in the water alone. Or with other kids without an adult keeping an eye on them. You also need to make sure an adult is always within your arm’s reach.
Teach your child water rules.
There are general water safety rules. You should teach your children by letting them swim in the pool or another body of water.
- Never prank about drowning.
- Don’t go to the water alone.
- Never dive into water unless an adult check’s the depth.
- Do not horse around by holding someone under the water.
- Be aware of slippery pool surroundings.
- No chewing gum while swimming to prevent choking hazards.
Teach children to swim.
Of course, the best prevention from water risks is teaching how to swim. Children can start joining swimming lessons from 3 years old. Safe Kids Worldwide notes that it’s essential for your kid to develop these general survival skills before they enter the water:
- learn how to enter the water that is over the head and then return;
- float or tread water for one minute;
- be able to turn over and turn around in the water;
- swim at least 20 meters to exit the water;
- be able to leave the water without using a ladder (if it’s a pool).
Be aware of cold-weather water hazards.
It’s a sunny day, and we want to refresh ourselves by jumping into cold water. But, water below 20°C is enough to slow your breathing and increase other risks making it more dangerous to perform well in the water. Unless your kid knows how to swim and is active in this water, make sure the water temperature is good enough for getting in.
There is no secret anymore that alcohol use slows our reaction and impairs our judgment. So whenever you are with your children and using alcohol, you risk your kid’s safety. Even if a cocktail at the pool sounds tempting, make sure you leave it for a better occasion as it can cause delayed reactions to unexpected emergencies.
Ignore your phone
Taking your kid to the water means taking full responsibility and dedicating yourself to watching them all the time. A few seconds of your attention can mean not noticing your kid slipping or taking a few steps further into the water. You should delay your text answers or scroll on social media while at the pool, lake, or beach with your infant. Your phone is also necessary for an emergency, so you should keep it in your bag by your side.
CPR (medically speaking – cardiopulmonary resuscitation) can be a necessary procedure in the event of a cardiac or breathing emergency. It’s designed to keep oxygen flowing to the brain and other organs by pumping the heart area and providing the air from mouth to mouth. In other words, it can help to save your child’s life. However, you should note that the procedure execution is different for adults and children. To refresh your skills or learn how to do it, you should enter a course or at least check it online. Redcross has described all the steps you need to know to perform a baby CPR correctly.
Water safety at home
Water hazards at the pool or lake are equally important and dangerous at your home. Even if you don’t have a backyard pool, but you have a baby born, you should pay extra attention to babyproofing any areas related to the water in your house. Water safety starts with these main places:
First of all, you can never fill a bath and leave it unattended. Secondly, children under four years old also cannot be left alone in the bathroom by themselves. Thirdly, you should never fill the bath higher than your kid’s waist when sitting in the tub.
Baby bath seats or rings
If you are using bath seats or rings, it doesn’t mean your kid is safe, and you can leave it alone unattended. Not even for a minute. It can be very dangerous if your child tries to stand up or get out of the bath. They can slip and get trapped underneath.
Buckets and containers
Buckets or containers carry the same drowning risk for your baby. If you are a parent of a 1-2 years old infant, make sure not to leave buckets or any other containers filled with water where your kid can reach. Your young fellow can accidentally slip and fall headfirst into the water.
Some kids are natural explorers, and somehow, they are tempted to the toilets. You might never know what they will try to do, so you should always keep your toilet doors closed. If this isn’t enough, always put the toilet seat and cover down. Besides that, another solution can be installing a childproof safety latch on the toilet.
Safety at Backyard Swimming Pools and Spas
If you are an owner of the swimming pool, spa, or hot tub in your backyard, there is no doubt that safety for children is the priority.
Install a fence
One of the most straightforward and recommended solutions to prevent kids from entering a pool or spa area is getting a proper fence. A fence should not have any footholds or handholds to help your child climb it. It should surround the pool or spa territory and be climb resistant. You should also consider getting a higher than 40 inches (1 meter) wall to make it invincible to get through.
Get self-closing gates
A proper fence cannot serve well if you don’t install self-latching or self-closing gates. You should make sure the latches are high enough from the bottom for your children not to reach or grab them. You need to make sure it opens in the right direction, which is pushed away from your pool.
Regularly maintain fence and gates
Getting a fence for the pool is not the last thing on your responsibility list. To ensure your children’s safety in your yard, you need to regularly and properly maintain it. It includes checking the fence for loose boards or posts. And making sure the gates are permanently closed, and the lock is working correctly.
Use pool covers
Pool covers can protect your children from slipping or getting in them when it’s not in use. It should cover the entire pool so that a kid could not move under it. Make sure to fix it tight, as floating covers are not safe enough. When the season ends, it’s also important to empty the pool and make sure there is no standing water on top of the pool cover.
Clear surrounding area
Clearing the surrounding area can ensure excellent visibility of your pool from your house. It also can prevent your children from using their imagination to climb over the fence into the pool or spa area. For example, if you plant a tree next to your pool fence, it can serve them to climb it over. You should also make sure you don’t leave any garden tools or kid’s toys around the pool to avoid slipping and injury.
Pack toys away
Toys are not suitable for the pool. By removing any floating toys in the water (or merely forbidding your kid to carry them with them), you can prevent some serious accidents. I experienced it by myself when my little girl was trying to reach and grab the toy in the pool, and the toy accidentally slipped from her hand. Luckily, she just got a sip of water in the pool. I don’t want to think about what else could have happened if nobody had been there and she got scared.
Diving is hazardous, and it can end in severe spinal cord injuries, permanent brain damage, or even death. These risks listed apply to everyone, even experienced swimmers. So if I were you, I would be very strict with your children when it comes to driving. Here are some rules I use for myself: first of all – no jumping when you don’t know the surface. Secondly, – you need to be aware of how deep the water is. And finally, if it’s the first time you are trying it, it should be with a trainer.
Safety at Lakes and Ponds
Swimming in open freshwaters such as rivers, lakes, or ponds is more challenging than in a pool. It also carries more hazards. If your kid has previously practiced only in a pool, make sure they don’t overestimate themselves, especially if it’s a teenager who wants to try his limits. So here is what you need to know about it:
- Golden rule – don’t let your kids swim alone or unattended. It would be best if you always were ready to jump into the water in any case.
- The surface of ponds and lakes is always unknown and barely visible. It can be rocky or contain some glass, sharp shells, or even trash. This is why foot protection is highly recommended.
- Some weeds and other water plants can entangle your arm or leg or even get a cut.
- Check out your kid after swimming in open freshwater, as some of them are cozy homes for leeches.
Safety at the Beach
Jumping over the waver and enjoying the summer breeze at the beach is a beautiful plan for your family. Yet, it’s not a pool with calm water; there are essential rules to follow for safety.
- You should always watch for warning flags and know what they mean. Trust the beach guards to keep your children safe and sound.
- Don’t let your kids swim near rocks as they can get bashed into them by a more significant wave.
- Don’t let your kids swim far into the sea, especially when there is a large waving. The waves are super dangerous as you can never know when they can knock them over and fling away.
- Tell your kids to swim along the shoreline continuously. If they get tired, they can quickly get back to the shore.
- To avoid getting stung by a jellyfish, check the safe swimming zones before you go to the beach. If there are no such, warn your kids about the possibility. In the case of stung, they should ask for help right away.
- Don’t let your kid swim when there is a storm (lighting) or when it’s dark.
Safety at Water Parks
Water parks can be fun for kids if they are designed by all safety regulations. However, it’s your job to teach them proper behavior. Make sure they don’t run and are keen to listen to qualified lifeguards’ warnings or instructions.
You should always keep an eye on and go with your kids to the entry point of the ride to see if they are acting safely. Make sure you read all the posted signs with requirements before letting your kid on a ride. There are certain limitations to different rides, for example, kids’ age, weight, or height. There is no one else to know your kid’s capabilities better, so beware of any medical conditions your kid might have.
What to Do in an Emergency
A kid’s survival depends on your quick reaction and rescue skills. The first seconds for a kid who had a near-drowning episode or was drowning are essential for his recovery. Here is what you need to know in case of emergency:
- Take the child out of the water and call for help. If you are not alone, ask somebody else to call an emergency while taking care of your kid.
- Check a child’s breathing and responsiveness. If a child is not breathing, start CPR immediately (if you know how). It’s the most important thing you can do to prevent a child from dying.
- If you suspect a neck injury, do not tilt the head, open the jaw, and don’t move the kid’s neck.
- When the emergency is on the line, follow the emergency operators’ instructions.
As the name itself says, water illnesses are the diseases that can be transmitted in the water – lakes, seas, pools, and hot tubs. Nobody is protected against it unless they follow the general safety rules. Besides, it can happen accidentally when you swallow or breathe in the contaminated water with germs. The infection you can get usually is diarrhea-related, but sometimes it can affect the skin (with rash), eyes, ears, or respiratory tract. Most vulnerable to this kind of infection are those who have weaker immune systems, including kids. To avoid any disease and protect yourself, you can check these recommendations:
- Forbid kids with diarrhea go swimming
- Avoid swallowing or getting not drinking water in your mouth.
- Make sure you drink enough clean water or other fluids.
- Always wash your and your kids’ hands after using the bathroom
- Teach your kids to shower before and after getting into the water.
- Remind your kids to go to the toilet before going into the water. If you have a baby that isn’t potty trained, use a proper swim diaper.
- Dry yourself thoroughly (especially the ears) to prevent any infection after getting from the water.
Water activities are fun. If you want to enjoy your family time with your kids at the pool, beach, or lake, make sure you are fully aware of any safety recommendations. This guide I wrote was to introduce you to the main things you need to know. As a parent, there is nothing else as important as my child’s life, and I believe you wouldn’t risk yours too. Enjoy the water safely!