Children find swimming to be an exciting and very fun activity, but for parents, sometimes the opposite is true. You worry about the many things that could go wrong while the children are in the water. Here are some ways to save yourself the headache and ensure a fun time for you and the kids.
Know where the exits are
Before you get in, know how to get out. Most swimming pools will have at least one ladder on the deeper end and a few steps to get in or out of the shallow end. Be sure to always be aware of the nearest exit should you have to take your child out of the water for any reason. The walls on the side might seem like a quick option, but in some pools they may be too high to hoist a child over. If your children are old enough to sit on the steps or wade in the shallow end independently, always tell your children where the exits are and show them how to get there. You may not be beside them at the time they feel the need to leave the pool, so ensure that they know how to exit by themselves.
Hydrate and Protect
Some aspects of water safety actually take place outside of the water. Hours before a swimming activity, ensure that you and your children are well hydrated by drinking water or sports beverages. Particularly in a climate like ours, it is very easy to get dehydrated in the sun. Although you do not see it, you actually perspire in the water! Hence, it is very important to replenish the water lost from your body. It will also be difficult to concentrate on supervising children if you are distracted by thirst.
Many adults make the mistake of neglecting sun protection, especially if they feel it is not a “sunny” day. Remember that sunscreen is not merely for preventing our skin from getting dark but primarily for protecting ourselves against the two types of ultraviolet radiation, UVA and UVB, which damage the skin, cause premature wrinkling and aging and increase the risk of skin cancer. Even if the skies are overcast, use sunscreen! SPF 15 is the minimum to protect against 93 percent of incoming UVB rays, but SPF 30 will shield against up to 97 percent.
If you and the children intend to play in the pool for a long period of time, ensure regular water breaks to rehydrate and re-apply sunscreen where it may have been wiped off.
Leave your phone alone
When supervising children in a swimming pool, you must remain fully focused at all times. Minimize distractions by leaving your phone in your bag (even if it’s waterproof!) completely out of reach. It is very tempting to take photos of the children while they enjoy themselves in the water, but you must realize that even a few seconds of distraction can leave your child vulnerable to harmful situations. You can always ask a friend or someone who is not swimming at the time to take your photos!
Should you have to take a call or leave the pool for any reason, even for just a short time, take your child with you if no one is available to supervise them while you step out. Even if your children have floaters or are using inflatable tools, you cannot ensure their safety while you are at a distance. Have your children come out with you or have another capable adult supervise them before you leave.
Stay within arm’s reach
Inside the pool, you may wish to encourage the children to be more independent. While this is an excellent idea for water safety, remember to still stay within arm’s reach. You never know when they may suddenly panic or require assistance. If you are too far away, you create the opportunity for accidents to happen. Most drowning can be avoided by being in close-enough proximity to pick up the child.
If letting the children swim on their own, remember to mark the deep end, either with lines in the pool or markers on the side. Strictly instruct them not to pass these marks and to turn around should they approach. Accidents can happen if the children are in water that is too deep and at that point, they may be too far way for you to assist immediately.
Give your child swimming lessons
Of course, the best way to keep your children safe in the pool is to equip them with the capacity to keep themselves out of danger. You can make them wear all the floaters in the world, but that would not guarantee their safety should the devices come off. Ultimately, teaching your child how to swim properly will make all the difference in a dire situation that could otherwise end in drowning. If your children know how to manage themselves in the water, the overall swimming experience will be much more enjoyable for you and everybody!
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