As the childhood obesity rates in our country skyrocket, it is more important than ever for us to get our children outside and active! Here are some tips to make your time in and around the water this summer a safe one.
- Most children can learn to swim at around 5 years of age.
- Prior to that age, swim lessons provide a way to work on the skills required for swimming (such as blowing bubbles) and encourage comfort in the water.
- "Drown-proofing" lessons for infants and toddlers can acquaint children with the water, but do not make it safe for your child to be around a pool or body of water. Most accidental submersions cause children to panic and drown, regardless of how well they seem to do in lessons.
- Encourage ALL your children to learn how to swim. With the huge success of water parks, most children want to venture onto the slides and rides, some of which land in deep water. (And it's never too late for adults to learn, too!) You can check with your local recreation center, athletic club or public pools for information on classes and lessons.
- After lessons, rinsing with fresh water helps to keep the chlorine from irritating the skin. Try to keep infants and toddlers from swallowing the chlorinated water, and never forcibly submerge them.
- Even children who know how to swim should be supervised at ALL times when around the water, and NEVER be left to swim alone.
On summer vacations, many of us will be visiting relatives or hotels with pools. Here are some easy to follow safety guidelines.
- Keep a phone by the pool for emergencies; it should be used to dial 9-1-1 if needed, not to converse while watching the children.
- When a child is missing in a house that has a pool, check the water FIRST. Precious seconds and a life may be saved.
- Air filled "floaties" are not a substitute for a life jacket, and they often give children a false sense of security around the water.
- NEVER allow children to dive into shallow water, or water where the depth is unknown or not visible, it may contain hidden hazards.
- Self-closing, self-latching childproof gates should surround pools.
- If you must leave the pool area to answer the doorbell or get the telephone (or for any other reason), take the child with you.
- NEVER swim when you hear thunder or see lightning.
- Empty wading pools between uses, children can drown in as few as 2 inches of water.
- During parties or social gatherings, designate an adult to monitor the swimmers at all times.
Hot Tub Rules
Although not many households in Colorado have outdoor pools, there are many homes with hot tubs. The previous list of rules can apply to the spa setting as well.
Above all, have fun and don't forget the sunscreen!
Article written by Regina M. Opalach, M.D. (a.k.a. "Dr. O"), Colorado Kids Pediatrics, (303) 632-3630