We travel a lot and love to embark on road trips and adventures both far and near and because we live in Florida and just minutes from some of the most beautiful beaches in the country we spend a lot of time near water. It’s really important to always be cautious when you are around water, both near pools or when outdoors at the beach or near lakes or rivers. Although drowning can happen anywhere and you always need to be cautious when you are swimming in an open body of water or near one there are some additional things you need to be aware of to help prevent drowning. You also need to be overly cautious when you are at a location you don’t know well.
1. Look for safe sites to swim at. Look for beaches, rivers, etc. that have lifeguards, specially when you are traveling and you don’t know the beach or the area. If the place you are at does not have a lifeguard always use the buddy system: swim with a partner and teach your kids to do the same.
2. Know who is at risk and be aware of your own swimming capabilities. I know that my daughter can not swim and also know that she is not cautious and that I have to keep an eye on her because she will wander into deeper water. Being aware of her capabilities helps me make the best decisions regarding how, where and when she can go in the water. I also know that I am not a strong swimmer so I keep myself away from dangerous situations.
3. Set up rules for the kids from the beginning. Even though I am always close by my kids know that they have to ask permission before going into the water whether it’s a pool or the beach. They also know that they can not get in deeper than knee high when I am not in the water with them and if they know that if they break any of these rules they have to come out of the water immediately.
4. Make sure to designate someone to watch the kids when they are in the water and take turns. It is very easy to get distracted and it’s not uncommon that someone will assume someone else is watching the kids and then it turns out no one was keeping an eye on them. Decide who will be responsible for watching the kids and take turns doing it and make sure that the designated water watcher is paying full attention to the kids and is within arm’s reach to them.
4. When swimming in open water take into account uneven terrain, waves, tides, currents, water temperatures, etc. Swimming in a pool is not the same as swimming in an open body of water. Make sure that you know about the currents, don’t jump in the water if you do not know the depth and learn the meaning of colored flags, which are used to indicate unsafe ocean conditions like high waves, rip currents and dangerous sea life. If you are visiting a new beach, lake or river make sure you ask the locals about the area and he water conditions.
5. Wear a life jacket and make sure it fits properly. Life jackets save lives. If you or your kids do not know how to swim or are not strong swimmers wear a life jacket just to be safe and always wear a life jacket when you are engaging in water sports like kayaking, water skiing, etc. If you are on a boat and your kids do not know how to swim put a life jacket on them and make sure that the life jacket fits properly. Make sure you and your children always wear approved life jackets; water wings and air-filled toys are not safety devices.
6. Enroll your kids and yourself in swimming classes. Teach kids to learn to swim at an early age and teach them what to do in the case of an emergency, how to tread water, how to reach the shore or the side of the pool and how to float.
7. Find out about local weather conditions before swimming or boating and stay away from the water when there are strong winds or thunderstorms.