Summer Fun: Water Safety for Kids

Tuesday, July 02, 2013 5:05 PM

water safetySpending time by the water is a great way to cool off during the hottest months of the year but it can be a dangerous place, too, especially for small children. There are a number of measures parents can take to ensure time by the pool or on the beach is always safe and lots of fun.

Joseph Terrizzi, MD, Pediatrician at NorthShore, shares his tips and precautions to ensure the entire family stays safe all summer long:

  • Always supervise children. Never leave children alone in the pool or near bodies of water. Infants and young children can drown in as little as one inch of water. If your children are frequently exposed to water, consider enrolling them in swim lessons. If your children can swim that doesn’t mean supervision isn’t necessary because even the strongest swimmers can drown after experiencing a muscle cramp or fatigue. Always be vigilant about supervision.
  • Fence backyard pools. It’s difficult to have both eyes on small children at all times. If you have a backyard pool, make sure it’s fenced with locks that can’t be easily opened by children.
  • Take swim breaks. Buoyed by the water, it can be hard to tell that your muscles are getting tired. Get out, rehydrate and relax throughout the day. Fatigue and dehydration can lead to drowning.
  • Establish safety rules. Public pools have rules in place and these rules can and should apply to backyard pools as well. Pool rules should include: no running or pushing near the pool; always swim with a buddy; no screaming; no diving in water less than five feet deep.
  • Avoid the use of flotation devices. Inflatable toys and rafts can deflate suddenly, leaving your child without protection in deep water. Don’t rely on them or allow children to use inflatable objects to swim into water that’s too deep for their age and ability level.
  • Always wear a lifejacket. Every member of your family, from the youngest to the oldest, should wear a lifejacket at all times on boats or in large bodies of water. A lifejacket fits correctly if it can’t be lifted over the head of the wearer when fastened.
  • Stay up-to-date on pool maintenance. Faulty pool drains can suck in and catch hair, and even arms and legs, so have your equipment inspected at the start of every swim season. Recreational water illnesses are caused by germs that are swallowed in contaminated pools and hot tubs. Keeping chlorine at recommended levels is essential.

What do you do to keep to promote water safety at home by the pool?

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