By Nicole Chiello
Swimming is an activity that is loved by children of all ages. As summer approaches, it’s important to think about being safe in the water and at the beach. If you are a parent or guardian, being at the water with your children can be a fun, but stressful time. There are definitely some things you need to think about before you venture to the pool (or beach!)
What are some general things I should remember when I am at the water with my children?
· Please remember that are large misconceptions when it comes to drowning. It can happen in an instant, and people who are drowning can’t call for help in most cases, as they are trying to breathe. Not all people who are drowning will yell, or wave their hands, or bob up and down in the water.
· Supervision is the #1 priority when water is involved! Children need to be supervised at all times when they are around water of any kind. A good rule of thumb is to remember that children under 5 should be only an arm’s length away from an adult. If you need to leave for whatever reason, make sure your child is with
you – do not leave them even for a minute – because less then a minute is all it takes for a dangerous situation to occur.
· Set rules from the start – and stick to them! If you are at the beach, and you tell them not to go past their knees, have a consequence ready when they do. They are going to test you and if you cave, they are going to continue to test! Set the rules from the get go, and talk about them before you even get there.
· The American Red Cross advocates for the buddy system – even if you are supervising your children, make sure they are always with someone else in the water.
· A flotation device does not replace proper supervision. Just because your child has a life vest on, or tube, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have to supervise them. Nothing replaces the proper supervision of an adult.
· If you own a pool, please abide by all rules and laws about owning one, including fencing, securing, and covering. Please make sure the cover is secure whenever it is not in use. Also, make sure toys are not floating in the pool when there is no one around – colorful toys are often hard to resist for small children and they might unknowingly try to grab them and fall.
How can I educate myself on proper beach and water safety?
- All caregivers and families should take a basic CPR class so they will be prepared in an emergency situation. This is a very simple way for all caregivers to protect their families and know what to do when an emergency situation arises.
- Enroll yourself and your child in a swim class. Classes are great because a child is there, learning how to swim and getting excited about the water – and at the same time, you and your child are learning about water safety and about how to be safe at all times. It’s a great tool to teach your kids about water safety without them even knowing it. :)
What do I do in an emergency situation?
- Check the water first if you own a pool. If you notice your child is missing, check there quickly first, as time is precious if something has happened to your child in the water.
- Call 911. Always have a phone handy when you are near the water.
- If you own a pool, make sure you have all of the emergency equipment on hand and ready. You shouldn’t have to look, or go far, for anything you might need quickly.
Nicole Chiello is an Education Specialist at The Children’s Workshop. She received a BA in Elementary Education and Psychology from URI. Nicole has been with the team for four years. Before being a director, she was a school-age coordinator, as well as a substitute for the Public Schools. Her favorite thing about working with children is the guarantee
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