Long, chilly winters spent indoors drinking hot cocoa and burrowing under layers of blankets have a way of making even the most safety conscious moms and dads overlook a few important pool safety tidbits. Sure, everyone’s anxious to bask in the sun, dive into a pool or wade at the beach, but safety is the backbone of a good time. Whether you’re heading to the beach this summer, swimming in your own above ground pools or visiting the family cabin on Lake Catchafishee, take time to observe these water safety tips:
A Refresher Course: Sunscreen 101
One of the basic summer safety tips, but also one of the easiest to overlook: Sunscreen. We all know why sunscreen’s important, so when you’re packing your bags for the beach, pool or lake, remember to toss in a tube of sunscreen that’s at least SPF 15 or higher. Remember to apply sunscreen at least thirty minutes before going outside so the ingredients have time to bind with the skin. Reapply every two hours, after swimming or after thoroughly toweling off. If your little ones are less than six months old, keep them primarily in the shade — they also shouldn’t use sunscreen just yet.
Safety Quick Tips
- According to the ISRM (Institute of Sport and Recreation Management), one adult can watch two children, younger than three years, in a non-swimmer area as long as the children are wearing armbands. If the children are four to seven years old, the adult should be able to look after three children.
- Use the age-old, Boy Scout approved aquatic buddy system to pair each child with another of equal swimming ability. The pair will serve as each other’s ‘buddy lifeguard’. They should stay together all times, especially when entering and exiting the swimming area. Conduct buddy checks every ten to twenty minutes and be sure to tell pairs to expect the buddy checks and raise their hands to be counted.
- Until a child is 18 years of age, a parent or guardian is legally responsible for his/her pool safety — but, of course, it’s up to the parent to decide when the minor can swim alone. Beware that some local communities do pass ordinances the prohibit minors from swimming alone, regardless of swimming ability. Check local rules upon arrival.
- Flotation Devices Are Not Life Jackets. Water wings and floaties are great for kids, but can never replace your watchful eye. These items are only toys, they do not compare to an actual life vest. Your child should always be in reach of some flotation device.
As soon as he is potty-trained, he is old enough to begin his swim lessons. Before swimming lessons, he can play in the water, but cannot learn how to swim until he is two to three years old.
When choosing a program, be sure that all of the instructors are certified in:
- Water Safety
- First Aid
Make sure there are no more than six students for each instructor. Lessons should include:
- Education about water safety
- Development of swim stroke
- Fun play
- Parent education
- Ongoing evaluations for promotions
It is Just a Myth: Ending On A Fun Note
There are two theories as to why parents told their children the myth about staying out of the water for an hour after they eat.
One theory, and the most plausible, states that after eating, most of the blood in your body goes to aid in digestion. With a lack of blood in the arms, swimming is more difficult and more hazardous.
The second theory states that the lack of lifeguards in the 50s and 60s meant parents had to watch their swimming children continuously. It is believed that they told this story because they just wanted an hour break after lunch! If nobody tells the kids, you still get our hour break after lunch! That’s worth celebrating.
So get the sunscreen, get outdoors and get into the water. Just remember: safety first! Happy summertime to all!