Summer Safety Series | Mind these rules before every trip to the pool, river or lake
By Valerie Hess Jun 13, 2016
Summer weather is finally here. With the hot temperatures, more and more kids and families are heading to the water. Before you go, read through these water safety tips compiled from Safe Kids Worldwide. Consider hanging a copy on your fridge or family message board and refer back to them whenever you’re planning a trip to the water.
1. Talk to your kids before they go in the water.
- Have a frank, uninterrupted conversation with your children before going to the pool, lake or river. Make sure they understand your rules and expectations for water safety including that they only swim in designated areas.
- Children should never go into water without adult supervision. Explain your expectations clearly.
- Educate children that lakes and rivers have uneven surfaces, sudden drop offs and dangerous currents. Make sure they know that swimming in open water is not the same as swimming in a pool.
- Children should always swim with an adult. Teach experienced swimmers that they should always swim with a partner or an adult as well.
2. Actively supervise children in water.
- Whether children are swimming in a pool or in open water, give them your undivided attention. Put aside your cell phones, books or iPads and watch for signs of fatigue, dangerous water conditions or dangerous behavior.
- Download a Water Watcher card or make one yourself. If more than one adult is present, designate an adult as the Water Watcher for a pre-set increment of time (such as 15 minutes). While wearing the Water Watcher card, adults pledge to give undivided attention to the children in the water. Hand off the card after your set time to an adult in your party who has made the same pledge. This will prevent lapses in adult supervision.
- An adult should be within arm’s reach whenever an infant or toddler is near the water. They can drown in as little as an inch of water and should be the only thing on your mind.
3. Learn CPR.
- Put this at the top of your to-do list. Have your children learn with you. This is a skill that will last a lifetime.
4. Always wear life jackets around open water.
- Use toys such as water wings and water noodles only for fun, not as safety devices. They are no substitute for a life jacket approved by the U.S. Coast Guard.
- Make sure the life jacket fits snugly. Ask your child to raise his or her arms straight up. If the jacket hits the child’s chin or ears, it is either too big or the straps may be too loose. Download this guide for choosing the right life jacket.
- Take advantage of the newly installed Respect Our River life jacket loaner stations. Life jackets are along the Platte River Parkway. Resect Our River has also installed several throw rope stations and 22 signs reminding people to always wear a life jacket along the parkway
- Please remember to return the life jackets when you are finished so they are available for the next family.
Valerie Hess is the grant coordinator for the Safe Kids and Safe Communities programs at Wyoming Medical Center. In her nine-year career at Wyoming Medical Center, she has worked in quality and regulatory, administration and community development. She is the mother of a spunky 5-year-old daughter and considers herself a closet video-gamer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (307) 577-7904.