As summer heats up, swimming, whether at the beach or in the pool, becomes every family’s favorite pastime. Yet, there are some pretty scary statistics showing that even the most experienced beach lovers are forgetting basic rules for enjoying the water safely. According to Centers for Disease Control and Preven- tion, ten Americans drown every day. But, a little attention can go a long way—especially when it comes to the kids. Executive director of United States Swim School Association Sue Mackie shared expert tips on how to keep children safe in the water this summer.
Designate a Water Watcher
Drowning can happen quickly and quietly, constant supervision is key. Mackie suggested designating a water watcher or multiple watchers, depending on how many children are around and how experienced they are in the water. If there are several adults, they should rotate watching time in 15-minute shifts. And lay off the booze. “You should not be drinking if you are the person who is supposed to be watching those kids,” Mackie said. Wear this badge with pride.
Teach ’Em Young
Children can be registered for swim classes when they are as young as six months old. That’s not necessarily overzealous. “That gets them acclimated to the water,” Mackie said. “At the six month age, it prepares the child and family for keeping their kid safe.” Find local classes at usswimschools.org.
Sport a Life Jacket
Whether on a boat or in the ocean, Mackie says it’s important to put children in a lifejacket instead of relying on something like swimmies or noodles. Get one that is Coast Guard approved.
Layers of Protection
On Long Island, we love to pack up our bags and head to the beach, but sometimes we just want to lounge next to our backyard pool. CDC reports most children actually drown in pools more than in open waters. “You need to have your pool fenced with a self-latching gate,” Mackie said. This isn’t a suggestion; it’s the law. Contact your local municipality for additional code and zoning requirements. And consider investing in a pool alarm in case a kid beats the system.