The warm weather brings lots of opportunities to have fun in the water, but it also brings dangers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 10 people in the U.S. die every day from unintentional drowning, and of these, two are children age 14 and under. In fact, drowning is the number one cause of accidental death for kids between ages one and four.
So, before you head to the pool or beach this summer, brush up on these important water safety tips to ensure your days in the water are accident-free!
Start swimming lessons young
Many experts recommend teaching your child how to swim—or at least survive in the water—as early as possible. Some recommend that you teach your kids to swim as soon as they can walk; the American Association of Pediatrics says kids can safely take swimming lessons as early as age one.
One study showed that there was a reduced risk of drowning in preschoolers who had taken swimming lessons. Another study found an 88 percent reduction in drowning risk in kids between one and four who had taken swimming lessons. (Note that this is not the universal consensus, though; some experts recommend starting swimming lessons at four or five.)
Ignore your phone
Most of us are guilty of focusing a little too much on our phones rather than the people we’re with or the scenery around us. Unfortunately, parents do this too, and at times when they should be keeping a close eye on their kids.
When your child is in or near the water, don’t take your eye off him. Lois Lee, an emergency-medicine specialist at Boston Children’s Hospital, says that kids can drown silently in as little as 25 seconds. So that super urgent work email? It can wait.
Water wings, pool noodles, and floating loungers aren’t enough
These accessories, while designed to float and help your child have fun in the water, were not designed to be life preservers. If your child is not yet able to swim, it’s okay to strap some water wings on them or give them a pool noodle, but only if you’re very close by. The only truly safe floatation device is a well-fitting Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
It’s also important to remove any floating toys out of the water when you’re not using them; otherwise, they may entice curious toddlers.
Consider implementing a buddy policy for older kids. The buddy can be a sibling or a friend, and kids are responsible for knowing where their buddy is at all times. Of course, this system doesn’t replace adult supervision; it’s just an additional layer of protection.
Enforce the rules
Drill these five rules into your kids: no running, no going in or near the water without adult supervision, no diving in the shallow end, no pushing people in the water, and no pulling kids under the water.