Nothing screams “Summer Vacation” quite like time spent at the beach with your family. With Memorial Day just around the corner, many people are already heading to the beaches and pools!
If children are along for the trip, then basic water safety for kids is of the utmost importance. While it would seem to be all fun and games when going to the beach for the first time, there are many things a parent should be aware of for the safety of their family. At the same time these simple tips should help you to relax and enjoy the time without being constantly plagued with fear about what could potentially happen.
Invest in swim lessons: While not every person can afford this, many local YMCA's offer very inexpensive swim lessons year round. Not only will your child have a basic understanding of how to say afloat, swim, hold their breath underwater and do the simple strokes of a beginning swimmer, they will have confidence in the water rather than fear that is often found in younger kids on a beach for the first itme.
Take the appropriate gear with you: Swim “floaties” are very popular with the younger kids at pools but reality is they are not quality flotation devices. A properly fitted life vest for those traveling on a boat, swimming for the first time or uncertain about their swim skills is the best choice. For a few dollars you can rent vests at many local beach destinations or purchase at stores like Walmart, Target or Sam's Club. The fit of the vest is just as important as the vest itself so make sure to measure and follow instructions on the vest rather than simply snapping it on and letting your child run for the water.
Always swim with a buddy: Whether it's just the adults or a mix of kids and adults together it is imperative to have a “swim buddy”. Find someone who will watch out for you, check in on your and always be aware of each others locations in the water. Not only can this person come to the rescue should an accident occur, but they are also more likely to be aware if you are struggling or in danger and prevent accidents from happening.
Never leave children unattended: Even turning to grab a bottle of water out of a cooler is an instant too long. If you must turn away from the water to gather belongs, grab a towel or answer a question take the time to grab your child and bring them with you. It only takes a few seconds for a child to drown. Never leave children unattended in or near water.
Always use UV Protecting Sunscreen: A “little burn” is still a bad burn. Don't take chances. Always use UV protecting sunscreen on all exposed areas. It is also recommended to put sunscreen under swim trunks and suits for extra protection to your skin. SPF 50 or above is the minimum you should use. Children should use higher SPF and if possible wear hats to cover ears and nose, loose light weight t-shirts or cover ups to cover when out of water as well. It is much better to be pale and safe than tan and dead.
Stay Hydrated: Many forget to drink water because they are in the water. Swimming and playing in the water does not hydrate your body. Make sure to take along plenty of water and drink often. Many public beaches and pools will have public water fountains available for refills but if uncertain always take extra. Dehydration and Sunstroke can be fatal if not taken care of quickly. It is best to stay hydrated and avoid illness and side effects of thirst
There are many things to remember when taking your kids to the beach or the local pool but these tips on basic water safety for kids are a wonderful starting point toward making your water time fun and easy. Locating areas to swim that have lifeguards on duty is a great way to go, especially for moms juggling multiple kids alone at the pool. Regardless of lifeguards or pool attendees on duty your children are your responsibility so always keep a watchful eye on them.
Most of all relax and have fun with your kids!