Educate Your Children
It is important to teach your children how to be safe in the water and what to do in case of emergencies. Explain to them why they cannot run at the pool, the dangers of diving in shallow water, the reason they have to wear a life jacket if they do not know how to swim, and what to do if they hear thunder or see lightning. Explaining these things to your children helps them understand why they cannot do it instead of just saying “no.” Be sure they know the role of the lifeguard and to call for help if needed.
Do not assume that just because there is a lifeguard at the pool or one on the beach that it gives you the green light to sit back sipping on a cocktail, reading your novel. Even if your child has been through swimming lessons, they still need to be watched every moment. Drowning can occur in only two inches of water, which makes the pool and the beach an easy place for accidents to happen. Invest in a Coast Guard approved flotation device, and get into the habit of using it every time you are participating in a water related activity. Also think about getting them some water shoes. This will help with stepping on sharp objects in the ocean as well keeping feet protected in the pool.
Teach your children about the dangers of the ocean and how it is different from the pool. Be sure they are swimming in areas that off er a lifeguard and that they always check the currents and tides. Explain to your kids that they should never turn their back to the ocean as waves are formed in an instant and above all make sure they know what to do if they get pulled under in the rip tides or get tired from wading in the ocean. And don't forget to sign up for a class on fi rst aide safety as well as CPR. You never know when you will need these skills. Classes are regularly off ered through your local Red Cross chapter.
Teach Your Children to Swim Early
Teaching your children to swim is one of the best gift s you can give them. Get them acclimated to the water early by playing in the bath. Sign them up for mommy (or daddy) and me classes when they are infants and sign them up for swim lessons when they are older. Having a lifeguard or some other role model fi gure to teach them is a good idea so they pay attention and get excited about swimming. Children should know how to swim by the age of five.
Teach them to always have a friend or buddy to swim with whether it’s at the pool or the beach. Even the best of swimmers can become very tired and lose steam which can make it virtually impossible to get out of the water. When your children swims with a buddy, they will always have someone that can go get help if needed.
It’s very easy to forget to drink fluids when you are in the water all day. If your pool does not have a “break time,” be sure to make kids come out of the water for at least 10-15 minutes every hour. This is a great time to re-apply sunscreen as well. Have them sit in the shade and be sure to drink lots of liquids. It is very easy to get dehydrated when you are out in the hot sun all day long. Educate yourself on the signs of dehydration which include dizziness, feeling lightheaded and getting nauseous. Have your child stop to take breaks for snacks and lunch with a time to rest directly after.
The summer is supposed to be a fun time full of vacations, activities and fun in the sun. Practicing safe water safety will ensure an incredible summer season for you and your family.
ANN NERI GAUSE has been a middle school counselor for 5 years with Loudoun County Public Schools. She graduated from Ferrum College in 2002 and went on to complete her Masters of Arts Degree in Psychological Services K–12 from Marymount University in 2005. Ann currently resides in Leesburg with her husband Joey, their son Ashton and dog Charlie.