Water safety

The allure of water during the hot months we’ve awaited all winter for can be very exciting. Cooling off just feels so good, even for little ones. With little ones, the excitement of swimming may be hard for them to hold back on, whether the situation is safe or not. 
Rules are extremely important around water, and kids are never too young to begin learning them. It’s also important to think about how to keep your kids safe around pools and beaches. Here are some general rules and guidelines for pools and beaches with kids.
Pools
1.  If you have a pool, keep the gate locked when it’s not in use and closed when it is in use and younger children are not in the pool.  Have a key hidden and out of reach of young children.
2.  Always have supervision when children are in the pool or around the pool and when applicable, have kids wearing flotation devices around the pool.
3.  Have flotation devices at the ready for children who are learning to swim or who don’t know how to swim.  If you aren’t sure of a child’s ability to swim, don’t go on their word. Have the floating device ready and test them first to make sure they can in fact swim on their own.  It only takes one second for a child to get in trouble.
4.  Teach them the sign to signal for help. If they are in trouble you may not be able to tell, teach them to wave their arms back and forth as a sign that they need help.
5. Discuss the importance of a gate or fence. I recently saw a photo showing a child climbing the pool gate. Children should be discouraged to climb fences and gates until they are old enough to be trusted. My youngest is a monkey. We have never let him climb our fence, the moment he starts we make him get off the fence and remind him of the danger of pools unsupervised. It does remind me though, that no matter how much we talk about it he is not old enough to be outside on his own.
Beaches
I love going to beaches with my little guys.  As my kids get older, beach life is a little more relaxing. My surveillance never wavers, but they know the rules and two out of three have become great swimmers. I did have a few summers where all three were at very different swimming levels though and that was tricky. Here are some tips for surviving the beach:
1.  Know the beach.  Is it a far drop off? Can the kids walk out far before the water starts to get deeper?  Make sure you know this before you let them go exploring.  If they are going too far and aren’t comfortable swimmers maybe a floaty is a good solution.
2.  Are there lots of boats? If so there may be waves.  Be conscious that the waves will make the water higher for the kids and harder to swim in.  Have flotation devices ready for them in these instances.   
3.  It is so hard to always have your eyes on the kids which of course is the intention.  With younger siblings around, you may have to make rules about wearing life jackets at the beach or flotation devices so that they are safe. 
It’s impossible to watch everyone at the same time sometimes. You know your child best. If you fear that your child will not follow your rules and limits you set, water is not the place to let them push the boundaries.
When beaches, pools or other bodies of water are too much risk for your little ones try these ideas to keep cool. Water play is never stress free, always be watching when kids are playing in even a little bit of water as they can still drown. 
Splash pads ­— wait, all ages loves this. We are so lucky to have one here in town. 
Water tables — With little ones, you need only a little tiny bit of water for them to splash in, throw in some measuring cups/spoons, bowls and watering cans and they can play for hours. You can do so much in a water table. You can turn it into bath time for dolls/barbies, clean dirty animals or dinosaurs, make bubbles.
Balloons — Fill balloons with water and let them throw them through hula hoops, down slides, at each other. They’ll have a blast!
Sprinklers — these still work like a charm.  Set it up, turn it on and let them run thought it.
Hose fights — These are all the rage here right now. Super great way to cool off.
Water can be very dangerous. We have all heard the absolutely terrifying stories of people who have lost loved ones to water or who have had close calls. Many people have a fear of water or swimming — for good reason. Even when vigilant, accidents do happen. 
If you are going to enjoy water this summer, just be sure you are prepared, have all you need so that you don’t have to leave little ones – 10 seconds is long enough for an accident to occur.
Whatever way you and your family choose to do to cool off, make sure you’re paying attention at all times.
You do not want a trip to the beach, or pool to end in tragedy.  Have fun, make memories and stay safe.
Looks like the warm weather is already here, enjoy.

By Shelley Heaphy

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