Whether they’re sailing, swimming or just splashing around, even most land lubbers appreciate the refreshing joys of spending time near or on the water when the temperature rises. But water fun can also be dangerous. Thousands of people drown each year, and drowning is the second-leading cause of injury-related death among children and teens. Whether you’re hanging 10 or hanging out, don’t take a vacation from safety.
By the pool
Before calling out “last one in is a rotten egg…,” follow these safeguards:
- Supervise children. It only takes a second for a child—even one who can swim—to slip into a pool or gulp too much water.
- Don’t rely on inflatable “swim aids.” They give you and your child a false sense of security and can deflate unexpectedly.
- Dive only in designated areas. Anywhere else, it’s feet first at all times.
- Steer clear of drains. Teach children to avoid drains (even covered ones) in pools, spas or hot tubs. Pin up long hair and know where to find the pump’s manual switch.
- Fence in your pool. Install a four-foot high perimeter fence with self-latching gates. Keep a rescue ring, shepherd’s hook or long, sturdy pole and a phone poolside. After swimming, remove all toys so children aren’t tempted to re-enter.
- Learn CPR. Adults and kids ages 13 and older should learn this life-saving technique.
At the beach
Enjoy the sand and surf, but take these precautions:
- Swim in areas supervised by lifeguards. Ask lifeguards about surf, currents and water conditions and avoid swimming past your ability. That sandbar or raft may look a lot closer than it is.
- Buddy up. A friend can summon help in an emergency.
- Avoid alcohol. Cocktails impair your ability to react to an urgent situation.
- Never dive from rafts, docks or piers. Currents and tides change the depth of the ocean floor.
- Keep two hands on tots. Even in knee-deep water, breaking waves can send a small child tumbling. Even better, keep little ones in life vests.
On the water
Set a good example for your kids by following smart boating basics:
- Develop a float plan. Before boating, tell a responsible person details about where you’re heading and how long you plan to be gone.
- Wear Coast Guard-approved life vests when boating. Kids need one even if they’re just by the water’s edge or on the dock.
- Avoid tubing or rafting in streams, creeks and rivers after a heavy rain.
Beware mother nature
Don’t let blistering sun and sudden storms take you by surprise. Be prepared with these tips:
- Slather on sunscreen. Choose a waterproof formula with an SPF of 15 or greater, apply 30 minutes before sun exposure (even on cloudy days) and reapply every few hours. Stay indoors or keep covered during the intense ultraviolet hours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Duck lightning. When you hear thunder, get out of and away from water immediately. Avoid isolated trees and open fields and head indoors.