This Georgia heat is showing no signs of going anywhere soon and what better way to beat the heat than a fun day in the water? A day spent at the pool, beach, water-park, or lake should be an enjoyable time but the dangers of drowning pose a greater threat that parents should be extremely aware of. Even if your child is a swimming fanatic, certain risks can be dangerous to their well-being. The Children’s Wellness Center (CWC) providers have put together a parent’s guide to swim safety to help keep everyone happy – and most of all out of harm’s way!
Be Water Wise
Safety, whenever being around water of any kind, is crucial and instilling good water safety practices in your kids can easily start at home. Teaching kids about the dangers of drowning and discussing pool safety rules help to prevent major injuries. Covering why they aren’t supposed to run on the pool deck, shouldn’t horseplay on slippery surfaces, or dive into shallow areas helps keep them, and other kids around them, much safer. Something else parents should consider is formal swim lessons as they help prepare children for being more comfortable in, and around, water. They may even help teach them what to do in case of an emergency. Flotation devices and life jackets are designed to offer extra support for kids when they’re playing in the water, but it’s important to make sure they are well-fitted and properly used (or else they can end up being worthless and do more harm than good).
A child should never be left unattended around pools (or any large body of water for that matter). If you have a pool, fence in the entire area and make sure the fence is at an appropriate height, has properly working locks, and is secure enough to keep the kids out. Taking your eye off your child even for one second can be costly and we know as well as you do how fast little ones can move sometimes! Accidents can happen to even the most experienced swimmers and they too shouldn’t be excused from needing a watchful eye. For older kids, always having a swim buddy, like a friend, older sibling, trusted relative, or parents, around is a safe swim practice that we encourage. Cramping, dehydration, or fatigue can make it difficult for even adults to navigate in water and not having someone around to help in a timely fashion can be costly.
In the case of a physical injury or drowning emergency, it requires fast action. Here are a few rules of thumb to keep in mind:
- We can’t stress this one enough – supervision is a must. Designate an adult as the “pool watcher” or lifeguard. When it’s each parent’s turn, wear a designated colored card, hat, or shirt while on “duty” to let parents know who is in charge of monitoring the pool area. Rotate every 30 minutes or so to give parents the freedom to socialize, eat, etc.
- Always have a cellphone or cordless phone nearby for calling 911 immediately.
- Consider getting CPR certified – it gives you the skills to help get air flowing back into the lungs until emergency responders can arrive (911 respondents are also prepared to assist over the phone if you’re not familiar with best CPR practices).
- For potential spinal or neck injuries, make sure you keep your child as still as possible, until paramedics can get to you. Most importantly keep their neck still so further trauma is prevented.
- Whenever an incident happens, act quickly and try to remain as calm as possible. It can be difficult during times of stress and panic to keep your cool, but it helps your child also remain calm. You’re they’re rock so if you’re scared and stressed they will be too.
There may not be a sure bet way for preventing swim-related injuries, but making sure potential threats are identified and addressed ahead of time is a huge advantage. We want you and your kids to have an enjoyable summer, one that’s safe and full of fun. Don’t forget to remember to always pack the sunscreen because sunburns can easily ruin a day’s fun in a matter of minutes! For questions about the pediatric services we offer at Children’s Wellness Center, don’t hesitate to contact us at 404-303-1314. You can stay connected with the CWC team by also joining us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and YouTube.