Protecting your kids in the presence of any and all water.
Kids plus water equals fun. Unfortunately, water fun can quickly turn disastrous without proper supervision and safety measures. While drowning can occur during any time of the year, cases of drowning increase by nearly 90 percent during the summer months. Whether at home or enjoying a day on the lake, it’s always important to put safety first when kids are in or around water.
Home Sweet Home
Water education and safety start at home. Never leave a young child unsupervised in the bathroom – not even for a second, especially if he or she is taking a bath. Don’t trust a bath ring or a baby bath, even if the water is only a couple of inches deep. It may seem impossible, but less than two inches is all it takes for disaster to strike. Also, avoid electrocution by keeping hair dryers and other electrical appliances away from water.
You should also remember that children’s skin is more tender and sensitive than adults, and hot water can burn a child’s skin faster than an adult’s.
Therefore, keep your home’s water heater temperature at or below 120 degrees Fahrenheit (49 degrees Celsius). When water is 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius), it takes only three seconds for a child to receive third degree burns. Before your child gets in the bath, test the water temperature on your hand, arm, and foot.
Additional water safety tips around the house include keeping the bathroom and laundry doors closed; closing and locking toilet lids when finished; and emptying buckets, bathtubs, and kiddy pools when not in use.
At the Pool
Water on your property is a huge responsibility when it comes to your kids’ and your neighbor’s kids’ safety. As you may suspect, home pools are the most common location of childhood drowning. Whether you have a pool, hot tub, creek, or pond, install a four-foot tall fence around the water and between the water and your home. The gate to the pool should close on its own and have a latch out of kids’ reach. Pool covers, locks, and alarms are also helpful – though not fool proof. When not in use, remove pool ladders from above ground pools. Also remove any pool toys from the water.
Out in Nature
The water at a lake, pond, or beach comes with all the hazards of a pool – and then some. To protect your feet from jagged rocks or trash, wear water shoes in and around the water. If on a boat, remember that alcohol and driving don’t mix. Get a designated driver, just as you would if you were driving a car. Additionally, all passengers on a boat should wear properly fitting life jackets.
At the beach, there may be a strong undertow or current. Swim where there’s a lifeguard and watch for weather conditions or high waves. If caught in a rip current, swim parallel to shore or tread water and call for help.
No matter where you are, stay out of water that is too cold. Any water colder than 70 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius) is too cold to stay in for long. If a child is shivering or gets a muscle cramp, it’s time to get out of the water.
Have a Plan
When it comes to water emergencies, seconds count. Keep a phone nearby, but don’t get distracted talking on it. Never let kids swim alone and never leave a child unattended in the water for a minute – even if he or she knows how to swim.
Children who don’t know how to swim should wear life jackets and have an adult within arm’s reach. Though they provide extra security, swim rings or water wings are not safety devices.
Finally, supervising adults should know how to swim and how to perform child and adult CPR. If you’re the supervising adult, never take your eyes off the kids as they splash and swim about. Reacting quickly to an emergency may make the difference between a life-changing event and just another fun day in the water.