We are deep into summer, so you know what that means… swimming time! It is the best time of year to splash around, which also makes it a good time to review the basics around water safety.
At Bug Bite Thing, protecting you and your family is our number one priority. We want to make sure your time outdoors remains fun and never turns scary, which is why we put together a list of quick, yet life-saving tips for swimming.
Since many families are spending most of their time at home for the time-being, we refer to the pool in most cases, but these guidelines apply to beaches, lakes, backyard canals and pretty much any body of water. This is partly why these recommendations also apply to fall, winter and spring, in addition to summer, since unforeseen circumstances can arise any time of year.
How to Keep Your Family Safe in and Around the Pool:
- Enroll new and beginning swimmers in lessons.
Swimming lessons are the number one tool for protecting people in the water. This goes for young children, but lessons also come in handy as they get older so they can remain strong swimmers in the pool and at the beach. Lessons not only help individuals become more comfortable in the water, but they also provide the skills needed to rescue oneself, should the situation arise. All that being said, swimming lessons don’t come with a 100 percent safety guarantee, so it’s important to add layers of protection.
- Install barriers around bodies of water at your home.
First and foremost, if you have a pool and regularly have children at your home, get a pool gate. We hate to be a “Debbie Downer,” but many childhood drownings happen while parents are not even aware their children are near water. For instance, a child opening a sliding glass door, a kid playing in the backyard during a family gathering, or a baby escape through a doggy door can end in ways we don’t wish to envision. With the added protection of a locking gate at least 4 feet high, these scenarios do not need to turn tragic. Fencing can also help if your property backs up to a lake or canal, as well as if you have neighbors with children who may be fascinated with your pool.
- Establish rules before getting in the water.
Create your own guidelines from the get-go. Figure out what this means for your family and situation. Maybe it’s “no running, jumping or pushing” for older kids, “no hanging in the deep end” for newbies; or “don’t leave the steps” for the littlest swimmers. A big one in the Bug Bite Thing households is, “no children are allowed in the pool without an adult.” Talking to your children before they get in the water will help them retain the information better than if they hear it when they are already excitedly swimming around.
- Always swim with a buddy.
This is important for children and adults. For children, having a designated person to watch them is especially helpful during gatherings or while at community pools. Adults should always stay within an arm’s reach of children who are not yet strong swimmers, so it’s best not to leave their side even if you anticipate they will be safe on the steps for “just a minute.”
- Say no to floaties.
Puddle-jumpers, water wings, air-filled tubes … whatever you want to call them, floaties are not a substitute for approved life vests. Oppositely, they tend to create a false sense of security for children and those watching them. For those still learning, it’s best to instead stay nearby and play on the steps or find entertainment in a kiddie pool or splash pad until ready to work on their swimming skills.
- Know the signs of fatigue.
You know what your child looks like when he or she is exhausted, so pay close attention. A tired kid is more likely to make a mistake, so it’s best to leave the pool area if it’s nearing nap time or if your stronger swimmers are worn out from a day in the water.
- Be mindful of toys in and around the pool.
Water toys are obviously a big bonus when it comes to pool time, but if they are not used appropriately, they can cause a lot of issues. Young kids often become so concerned with their play things that they focus more on grabbing a flamingo tube or holding onto a Nemo toy than using their arms to stay afloat. When you are in the pool, consider keeping toys within easy access at the edge of the pool, on a ledge or somewhere shallow. When playing outside – especially if fully clothed and not planning to swim – keep balls, dolls, cars and other toys as far away from bodies of water as possible … it’s too tempting and mistakes can be made.
Don’t forget safety around kiddie pools.
This may come as a surprise, but even inflatable pools, hot tubs and other smaller containers of water can cause a threat. While in use, always keep an eye on small children. When you are not using these items, dump them out and turn them upside down. For in-ground options, a gate or very heavy cover is still recommended. In addition to removing potential drowning hazards, removing standing water also reduces the risk of creating a mosquito breeding ground.
Have your rescue tools nearby.
If possible, have a rescue hook or floatation device available at private pools and know where they are located at community pools. Swim safety goes beyond the water, too. Be sure you protect your body with lots of fresh water to drink, sunscreen to reapply, and a Bug Bite Thing since mosquitoes like to hang around water! Be sure to keep the tube of the Bug Bite Thing dry, as moisture may decrease the suction capabilities you need to take action against bites and stings.
- Keep a phone close.
We hope you never need it, but have a phone nearby in case of emergencies. Even if you follow all of these guidelines, slips and falls happen, so it’s always good to be prepared.
What are your swim safety rules, and has the Bug Bite Thing come in handy during a day at the lake or while hanging at the pool? Share your tips and stories with us on the Bug Bite Thing Facebook page.
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