It is getting hot out there! July is always an almost unbearably hot month here in Kansas City – we hope you’re staying cool and staying safe at the same time. One of the most popular ways to cool off in the summer is by taking a dip in the water. Whether you’re cooling off in the pool, river, or even taking an out-of-state trip to the beach, there are some easy steps you can take to ensure the safety of yourself and your kids.
How much do you know about drowning? Did you know it’s the second most common cause of death of children under the age of 14? Did you know it can happen in less than 2 minutes? The good news is you can take steps to prevent water dangers and keep your kids safe, cool and happy. Keep these ten water safety tips in mind this summer:
- Teach your children water safety and swimming as soon as possible. While you should never rely only on swimming lessons or life jackets to make water “safe”, you can teach your children about the dangers of the water. Explain to them why it’s important not to go into the water without an adult and teach them how to swim.
- Install a fence around water areas. Whether it is a pool or a spa, be certain you have adequate fencing around the area and ask your neighbors to install appropriate fencing as well. Fencing should be at least 4 feet tall and have self-closing and self-latching gates, but check your local laws and ordinances because they may require something more. If you have a spa, install a lockable cover.
- Reduce access to water areas. If you have a pool, use alarms on doors and windows that lead to the pool area, remove furniture that a child could use to climb a fence into a pool area and put away toys that might entice children into the pool area.
- Learn CPR. Learning CPR can be invaluable. Take a class to learn CPR and post the instructions near the water area. You should also keep a fully-stocked first aid kit near the water area in an easily accessible place. Make sure everyone is aware of the location of the first aid kit.
- Always supervise children. This one may go without saying but is always a good reminder. Never assume someone else is watching your children. Never use flotation devices as a substitute, even for a short period of time. If you’re in a social setting, make sure all of the adults know who is in charge of watching the children and consider designating a specified “watcher”. Remember, when children are in trouble in the water, it is not always something you hear – in fact, it is usually silent.
- Post and communicate water safety rules. Create safety rules for water areas. Discuss them with your children as well as any family members, neighbors or babysitters who many supervise the children. Have a plan to review these rules throughout the summer to keep everyone on the same page. Some rules to include are:
- Never go near the water without an adult’s permission and supervision.
- Only walk near water areas. Do not run.
- No diving into the water.
- No pushing or rough-housing near the water.
- Stay in shallow water.
- Only use plastic containers near water. Whether you’re sitting on the beach or around your pool, avoid glass containers. Broken glass can be hard to see and remove.
- Always ensure lifeguards are on duty. At the pool, beach or a water park, you should always ensure there is a lifeguard on duty. Remember, this does NOT take the place of supervising your children but is an extra precaution in addition to your supervision.
- Keep children away from suctions and drains. Suctions and drains can cause additional danger to children. Locate all the suctions and drains in your water area and keep children away from them.
- Always use life jackets. While you should not rely on life jackets in place of supervision, your children should always wear a life jacket when around water. Ensure the life jacket is coast-guard approved and fits your children appropriately. Using the wrong size life jacket can create a dangerous situation.
Keep these tips in mind this summer and always remember, if you are near a water area and a child goes missing, always check the water area first. Stay cool this summer and more importantly, stay safe!