Filed under: Activities & Attractions, Family Camping, Outdoor Recreation & Hiking, Safety on the Road, Traveling Tips
Summer Swimming Safety
Children love water! Nothing is more tragic then the loss of a child. This feels even more true when the accident could have been avoided. Did you know, it only takes 20 seconds for a child to drown and only 60 seconds for an adult? Whether it is a puddle, bucket, pool, or beach children are drawn to water like bees to flowers. Many times accidents happen just because no one saw the impending danger. No one tells their child to play on the freeway so why do they ignore simple water safety? I like to believe it is just ignorance.
When I worked as a lifeguard I was astonished at how many parents just dropped their children at the beach and drove away. (And some of those children could not swim!) When you are at a beach on a lake or in the ocean don’t depend on the lifeguard. Speaking as an ex-lifeguard I can not stress this enough. Lifeguards generally have a large area to watch and it is impossible for them to always be looking at your child!
Diving, in the Deep End of the Pool
When swimming in a small pool with a deep end, caution your children about diving in the deep end. Small pools like you find in most backyards and motels have a very short deep end which slants up to the shallow end. The slope is an accident waiting to happen. Children tend to have a major growth spurt around age 12. The increased height and body weight cause them to go deeper and faster then they expect. If they are diving toward that slope, they could hit it, which can cause sever back injuries or even death.
No Running on the Deck!
How many times in your life have you heard the lifeguard blow the whistle because some child was running on the deck? Parents must remind children not to run around the pool. And, set a good example! Pool decks are slippery. I remember one time I was at a party where there was a pool in the back yard. No one was swimming that day, so the parents weren’t watching that close. Well a 5 year old that could not swim slipped and fell in. Fortunately for her, an older child that had some knowledge how to respond to the emergency pulled her out before the other children even got to the adults inside the house.
Pool Horseplay Caution
Horseplay around and in the pool is inevitable, but, before you hoist the six year old on to your shoulders to play “chicken fight” think about the cement edge of the pool and its proximity to your child’s head when you get knocked down. In other words use common sense.
Pool Safety Equipment
If you are stopping at someone else’s home for a visit and they have a pool, make sure the gate that closes off the pool is closed. Check to see if your child can open the gate or easily climb the fence. If there is no fence around the backyard pool do not let the child out without a responsible adult who is aware that they are watching the child.
Safety at Rivers, Lakes and Swimming Holes
Don’t Assume the Bottom Has Not Changed
Every year emergency rescue is busy all over the country because someone dove of the rocks into the good old swimming hole and hit a rock. Remember river bottoms change as the current slowly moves the rocks on the bottom. Don’t assume that last years diving hole is as deep this year as it was last. Sometimes a boulder only has to shift a few feet to create a major hazard.
Know what hazards are typical in the geographical region you are visiting. Are there water snakes? Are they poisonous? Are there alligators? How is the water quality? Some swimming holes do get polluted. This is especially true after a good rain. All the fecal matter and other pollutants get washed into the river, lake or pond. It is safest to wait at least 3 days after a good rain to enter the water.
Natural swimming areas are not chlorinated. Bacteria are always a concern. For the sake of fellow swimmers don’t let the young members of your family just strip down out of the diaper and go into the water. Use swim diapers. If the cost to your wallet and the environment bother you, there are reusable eco friendly swim diapers available for about $10.00 a pair. Remember while you are keeping the baby from polluting the water you are also giving a certain amount of protection in reverse.
Additionally, there are some general rules for swimming safety that should be kept in mind at all pools and natural swimming areas:
- Never swim alone, even the best swimmer can run into trouble. You never know when the swimmer might develop a cramp or hit their head diving etc.
- Always watch the children in your care. Do not assume that the other people at the pool are going to notice if they get into trouble, not even the lifeguard.
- Do not depend on floatation devices to protect your child from drowning. They can loose air or slip away easily.
- Teach all members of your family to swim. Contact your local community center, Red Cross or YMCA to find classes in your area.
- Learn water rescue techniques. To find classes in your area consult your local Red Cross.
- Learn CPR. Classes are available through your local Red Cross. In some areas CPR classes are offered by area hospitals, community centers and fire departments.
Perhaps the most important rule and one that has already been mentioned in almost every swimming safety list ever made is do not swim alone. Follow these simple tips next time you hit the water on your camping trip and you’re sure to have a safe, fun time!