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Keep Your Kids Safe This Summer With These Swim Safety Tips

Jun 03, 2019 11:12AM

Summer and swimming seem to be synonymous. But safety always comes first, which is why we asked local experts for some pointers to ensure a safe, cool, and fun summer for all. 

Secure your pool. Be cautious even when you aren’t swimming. If you have a pool, secure it with appropriate barriers like fences with locks that are out of reach of children. Aboveground pools need to be cleared of steps or ladders when not in use. 

Protect your skin. Wear sunscreen with at least SPF 15 and reapply every two hours, especially when in direct sunlight, which occurs between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Never swim alone. Young children and those who cannot swim proficiently should always have an experienced adult present. Older children who can swim well should always swim with a buddy in case of an emergency.

Don’t rely on flotation devices. Flotation devices give children a false sense of security. Kids may think they know how to “swim” because of how efficient they are with floaties. Once the floaties come off, though, kids have to learn how to be comfortable in the water all over again.

Enroll in swim lessons. Participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88 percent among children ages one to four. Kids as young as four months old can take swim lessons, start learning to be comfortable in the water, and acquire safety skills. Students enrolled in swim lessons also achieve developmental, physical, and social benefits and gain a skill that ensures a lifetime of safe, fun swimming.

Children should be comfortable opening their eyes underwater. Many children become dependent on wearing goggles and lose the ability to swim if their goggles fall off or fill with water while swimming. If a child happens to fall into a pool without goggles, it’s critical that they’re comfortable opening their eyes, in order to locate the nearest step or wall and swim to safety.

Keep children under constant supervision. No matter how advanced you think your child is at swimming, they must always be supervised when in or around the water. If a child is missing, check the water first. Remember: It takes less than five minutes of your child being out of sight for a drowning to occur. 

Wear a life jacket. Always make sure to wear life jackets on boats, personal watercraft, and in open bodies of water.  

Enter feet first. As a rule, always enter a pool feetfirst. Diving headfirst can result in injuries to the face, head, neck, and spine. No diving and no running or jumping either, since you can slip and seriously hurt yourself. 

Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water regularly, even if you’re not thirsty. Adults must avoid alcoholic drinks, as they can impair judgement and inhibit reaction time which, in turn, can lead to drowning.

By Tara Mendanha
Thank you to our experts: Kaleb Wallen of Steve Wallen Swim School, El Dorado Hills and Roseville; Darin and Kristin Mai of SwimLabs El Dorado Hills; Amy Motroni of Sea Otter Swim Lessons, Loomis