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two young using lifejackets while swimming

Hot summer days are the perfect time to get outside and take a dip at a local beach or pool. However, a fun day can quickly turn tragic if you don’t take proper safety measures into account. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children between the ages of 1 and 4 have the highest drowning rates and are more vulnerable to drowning when in a home swimming pool. For children ages 1 to 14, drowning is the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death, only behind motor vehicle crashes.

In order to protect you and your family while you’re out having fun in the sun, the team at Glen Allen Pediatrics has compiled a helpful guide with safety tips to keep in mind when you’re at a beach or pool.

Provide Constant Supervision

Drowning can happen quickly and without any warning. Put your full attention on your children anytime they are in or around water or designate a responsible adult that you trust. It’s also important to ensure you or the designated adult are not distracted by other activities such as reading or using a phone.

Enroll in Swimming Lessons at an Early Age

Swimming lessons are one of the best ways to protect children from drowning. The earlier you can enroll your child in swim lessons, the better. Even if your child is a good swimmer, it’s still recommended to provide constant supervision.

Learn Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)

CPR skills save lives every day. By learning CPR, you could save a life faster than an ambulance can arrive. Check with the American Red Cross or the American Heart Association for a CPR training course in your area.

Swim Near a Lifeguard

When you take your children to a pool or beach make sure the facility provides lifeguard protection. According to the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA), the chances of drowning at a beach without lifeguards is almost five times higher than drowning at a beach with lifeguards.

Swim with a Buddy

Swimming with a buddy provides an extra layer of security. If one swimmer encounters a problem, the other swimmer can signal for help from the supervising adult or lifeguard.

Wear a Life Jacket

U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets are especially important at the beach or on a boat. According to the USLA, about 80% of boating accidents are from drowning. For this reason, many states require children, or all boaters, to wear life jackets anytime they are aboard a boat. Life jackets can also be worn by young children in swimming pools as an added safety precaution.

Remember that Water Toys are Not Safety Devices

Pool noodles, inner-tubes, “water wings,” and other inflatable or foam toys should not be used as a substitute for lifejackets. They are considered toys and are not designed to protect swimmers from drowning.

Don’t Let Children Hold Their Breath for Extended Periods of Time

Older children might find it challenging to see how long they can hold their breath underwater. However, holding their breath for an extended timeframe can make them unintentionally lose consciousness and possibly drown. This is sometimes called a hypoxic blackout or shallow water blackout.

Always Enter the Water Feet First

Always check the depth of the water and look for obstacles before swimming. Paraplegia, a serious, lifelong injury, can easily occur when diving headfirst into unchecked water and hitting the bottom of a pool or an unexpected object.

Apply Sunscreen Frequently

To prevent sunburns, skin damage, and skin cancer apply a broad spectrum sunscreen anytime you or your children are outdoors. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies under 6 months old should be kept out of direct sunlight, but parents can apply a small amount of sunscreen with at least a 15 SPF. Older children can use a sunscreen with a 15 SPF or higher, but be sure to reapply every 2 hours or after swimming.

Drink Plenty of Water

The hot summer sun can cause dehydration quickly. Make sure you and your children drink plenty of water and tell a lifeguard if anyone begins to feel ill as it could be a symptom of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

Pay Attention to the Local Weather Forecast

If strong thunderstorms are in the forecast, it’s best to reschedule your trip to the beach or pool. Strong winds and lightning strikes are extremely dangerous situations, and you should avoid being in or around water when severe weather is imminent.

No matter the age of your child, the best way to ensure that they have a safe, fun day at the beach or pool is to provide constant, careful supervision. For more information on how you can keep your child happy and healthy, contact Glen Allen Pediatrics today by dialing (804) 282-4210. Our small family practice of doctors, nurses, and staff will get to know your child and provide continuous, quality care that is customized to your child’s needs.