During summer, water activities usually top the list of must-do activities. A typical day at the beach or pool can be anything but for families who are unprepared. Adults and children who can swim may have better control of their movements in the water, but that does not negate safety concerns associated with pools, lakes, and beaches. Here are several key safety guidelines to consider for summer days spent near the water:
Choose an area manned by a trained lifeguard. If possible, take extra precaution by staying close to a lifeguard station. It’s unrealistic to expect parents to keep an eye on children 100% of the time, so setting up near a trained professional ensures that someone is scanning the waters and diligently paying attention.
Consider access to the water. Families looking for hotels, cabins, or beach bungalows over the summer should ask about the ease of water access for children. If a pool is not gated or access to the beach does not have a reasonable level of protection, a different option may be best.
Life vests vs. a flotation device. It’s natural to feel a sense of security if you or a child utilize a flotation device, but items such as rafts and toys can lose air, slip out from under a person, or shift positions. A U.S. Coast Guard approved life vest is the best safety option.
Consider water currents. Some of the greatest risks at beaches or lakes are rip tides, currents, or channels. Anyone caught in a rip tide should swim parallel to the shore or tread water, but should not fight the current. These precautions are best taught to kids in a hypothetical scenario so they understand how to react if they are caught in water currents.
Sun safety. Apart from caution in and around the water, overheating and dehydration can occur quickly. Avoid the dangers of high temperatures and humidity by taking a few sips of water every 15-20 minutes.
Skin safety. Protect skin by choosing a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) that has a physical blocker such as zinc oxide or titanium. Reapply sunscreen every 90 minutes, or immediately after going into the water if the sunscreen is not water-resistant. Use child-specific sunscreens for youngsters.