25 May Have a Swimmingly Awesome Summer
Summer is finally here! For Texans, that means hot weather and, hopefully, pool time! As you and your kids grab your beach towels and sunscreen, there’s one more thing you’ll need to remember: how to be safe while enjoying the waves. The bad news is that, for kids between 1 and 19 years old, drowning is still the second leading cause of death. The good news is that drowning rates have been on the decline for the last two decades, thanks to increased awareness and education. To make sure you have the most fun in the sun this summer, let’s talk about some water safety tips to remember.
In the Backyard
If you have a pool in your backyard, make sure there’s a fence around it that is at least 4’ tall and is not chain-link (chain-link fences are easy to climb). Taking this one step can decrease the risk of drowning by 50%. This rule especially applies to inflatable pools. Because inflatable pools are technically considered “portable,” they’re not held to the same safety codes as permanent pools; however, the soft sides of an inflatable pool make it easy for a child leaning on the side to fall in head first.
It’s also important to educate your kids to stay away from the drain in the pool because their hair can become entangled in the drain. There are special drain covers that can help prevent this, but the safest option is to steer clear of it altogether.
At the Community Pool
Public pools should have lifeguards, but a lifeguard isn’t a babysitter. You are still responsible for the safety of your child, even with lifeguards present. At a nearby recreational center, the lifeguards wear t-shirts that say, “If your child is in the water, YOU SHOULD BE, TOO.” That is excellent advice! Although lifeguards are equipped to save lives when necessary, their attention is divided between several children and adults at once. To ensure your child’s safety, you need to be the one watching them.
If you’re with other adults and children, a great idea is to use a Water Watcher card (you can print one out here). Designate one adult in your party to be the Water Watcher, and that person takes the Water Watcher card. After 15 minutes, a different adult takes the Water Watcher card for 15 minutes, and the rotation continues for the duration of your time at the pool. This gives everyone a chance to relax, read a book, or take a nap by the pool without compromising your children’s safety.
In the Waves
Whenever possible, choose beaches and lakes that have lifeguards. Again, these lifeguards aren’t in charge of watching your children for you, but they have valuable skills that could help save your child’s life, if need be. Teach your children about rip currents and what to do if they’re caught by one (swim parallel to the shoreline until they are no longer in the rip current, and then swim to the shore; do not swim against the rip current).
Wherever You Are
Remember, regardless of where you’re swimming, be alert of your children. It’s also highly recommended that parents and pool owners learn CPR. There are often local departments that offer this training, so look for a CPR course in your area. Talk about pool safety with all babysitters and guests at home, and make sure they understand your safety standards. Finally, teach your child how to swim. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that children begin taking lessons at around 4 years old. Whether you’re teaching them to swim yourself or are taking them to lessons, teach your children to never go in or near water without an adult present. And finally—remember to have fun!
For more information on the web, check out safekids.org and healthychildren.org. If you have questions or would like to discuss any concerns you have regarding water safety, you can schedule an appointment with Dr. Kathryn Mandal by calling 817-617-8600 or scheduling online at continuumtx.com.