Summer is a season defined by water. A summer vacation to the beach, where the ocean’s tumbling, salty waves provide hours of fun, dodging whitecaps and building sandcastles at the water’s edge; the lazy weekends spend at your apartment community’s swimming pool, the dazzling blue water providing a cool respite from the summer heat; an afternoon spent at the lake, where swimming, boating, and even fishing provide lasting memories of a fun-filled summer; the exciting days at the water park, tackling the water slides and wave pool; and the river, lazy or rapid, where adventures range from tubing to kayaking to whitewater rafting.
Unfortunately, all of that water-filled fun has a dangerous side, especially for children. Roughly 300 children under the age of five drown in pools and spas every year, and another 3,200 are hospitalized due to water-related injuries. For every child that drowns, an additional four are hospitalized for near-drowning. And, more than half of all children who die from drowning between the ages of one and four drown in a swimming pool.
Here are some tips to make sure you and your children stay safe this summer:
–Pack a pool safety kit. This should include a first-aid kit (include bandages for skinned knees and a pair of tweezers for splinters, as well as something for bee stings), a flotation device, and a pair of scissors (to cut hair or clothing should someone get stuck in the pool or spa).
— Make sure your apartment pool meets safety requirements, such as compliant drain covers and appropriate chlorine levels.
— Instruct your children to never run near the pool and to stay far away from the pool drains and other openings.
— Take your cell phone with you to the pool, beach, lake, etc. (keep it well away from the water or put it in a sealed, waterproof container), just in case you need to call 911.
— Watch your children carefully! Don’t assume that others in the water or near the pool will alert you if there’s a problem. Even if your child is a strong swimmer, never leave him/her unattended at the pool – not even for a few minutes.
— Learn CPR. If the worst happens, you’ll be better able to respond.
— Review pool etiquette with your children and make sure they are aware of your apartment community’s pool rules.
— If you don’t know how, learn to swim! Make sure your children know how to swim, as well.
— Don’t rely on flotation devices! Even if your child is wearing the appropriate gear (“swimmies” in the pool, a life vest on the boat), accidents can still happen – watch them carefully.
— Never swim alone! Even if you are a strong swimmer, use the buddy system.
— Be aware of rip currents when you are at the beach, and know what to do if you are caught in one (never swim against a rip current – tread water, float, or swim parallel to the shoreline until you escape the current).
— If you lose track of your child, check the water first. A child can lose consciousness after only two minutes in the water, and can suffer permanent brain damage after just five minutes.
— Never dive (or let your child dive) into shallow water (or a body of water where you aren’t sure of the depth, such as a lake). Diving into shallow water is the cause of most spinal cord injuries.
— Always keep an eye on the weather! If a storm is approaching, stay out of the water. According to the National Lightning Safety Institute, “If you can see it, flee it; if you can hear it, clear it.” Don’t forget – lightning can not only strike the pool, but it can also strike water pipes and other things connected to the pool. Stay clear of the pool area until the thunder has stopped for more than 30 minutes. If you are at the beach, be aware that a strong storm can stir up harmful bacteria in the water, so stay out of the water for at least 12 hours after the storm.
Here’s to great memories and a fun-filled, safe summer! Do you have safety tips or suggestions for the beach, lake, or your apartment pool? Share them with us on Facebook.