When Mother Nature cranks up the heat folks in Minnesota and Wisconsin head for water. Whether it’s the lake, or beach, a pool, or even your own backyard, playing in water is one of the best ways to cool off and still be active. We are fortunate to have so many area lakes, pools and water parks to choose from; most of us are only minutes away from some kind of recreational water facility.
Because so much of our summer activity revolves around water PYAM pediatricians recommend swimming lessons for all children. Even if your child doesn’t master swimming in one session, he will still be taught basic water safety rules. That alone can save lives.
Here are the sobering facts: 3,000 drowning deaths annually in the United States; children aged four and under have the highest death rate from drowning; and lastly, drowning is the second leading cause of death for children aged five years to 24 years.
To protect children from drowning, there is one cardinal rule that must be followed every time your child is near water: NEVER LEAVE A CHILD ALONE NEAR WATER, NEVER.
When planning for parties and nights out, responsible adults designate sober drivers—so, when your kids are near water, designate an adult to stay focused on the children, even if there are lifeguards on duty. Take turns being ‘it’ and have frequent shift changes. The larger the group you are with, the more vigilant you need to be. With two or more families, it is easy for one child or toddler to wander off and be missed in the head count.
In addition to the Water Safety Rule #1, here are some other reminders that can help you and your kids have a happy and safe summer.
- Buddy system—pair kids up and explain the importance of watching out for each other.
- No running, pushing or shoving near pools.
- Even kids who can swim need supervision.
- When the weather is bad avoid the water
- Use age-appropriate life jackets—small children need a device that will keep their heads above water
- Floaties and inflated toys are not to be used in place of approved life-vests or other flotation devices.
- Never dive into less than 9 feet of water. It the depth of the water is unknown, jump in feet first.
Remember that whenever people spend a lot of time in the sun, they need to rehydrate. Kids can get so wrapped up in the moment that they don’t want to stop for a drink. Make them, those little bodies dry out much faster than our adult models do.
Don’t forget that sunlight reflected off water accelerates burn times.
By all means bring snacks, but try to include some healthy selections. And just so you know, kids don’t need to wait an hour after eating before heading back into the water. There is not one documented drowning from swimming too soon after eating. Myth busted.