Living near a lake means endless opportunities for fun, both in the summer and winter months. We live near one of the largest lakes in our state and it’s a huge draw for homeowners, as well as vacationers. Here you’ll find restaurants, marinas, fishing piers, and places to rent watersport equipment.
But whenever you’re discussing water play and children, there are some important safety measures to take. I love nothing more than bringing my son down to the beach or out on a friend’s boat for a leisurely ride. With this being said, I take water safety extremely seriously and so I’d like to share some of my favorite tips and tricks to safely enjoy the water, as spring and summer near.
Supervision Is Key
This is probably the most obvious safety tip when it comes to water safety and kids, but it bears repeating. Water is an excellent form of play and stimulation for children of all ages. Water play offers infants and small children a new and interesting material to explore. They can practice fine motor skills such as pouring, dumping, and filling, as well as splashing. It’s fascinating to watch an infant experience water for the first time, even if it’s just on their toes or fingertips. But the reality is that a small child can drown in even as little as two inches of standing water. This means supervision during water play is key, even if the child is simply playing in a water table or with a bucket. This also includes bathtime. It’s important to never leave a child unattended when playing in the bathtub.
Water Play Outside the Home
Supervision outside the home is also extremely important. If your family is visiting the local beach, community pool, or enjoying a day on the lake or ocean, it’s imperative to always have a watchful eye on your little ones. If your child wants to play near the shoreline at the beach, be sure you are with them. Even in the shallowest water, one wave can easily knock a small child down. Sit along the shoreline while they splash around or hold them securely by the hand. Children are also easily distracted. They might spot an interesting fish, seashell, or sand toy and wander off. This could easily lead to them wandering too deep into the water.
If you’re taking your child out on a boat ride, everyone on board should be wearing lifejackets, especially children under the age of 11. My son is constantly complaining about the lifejacket being uncomfortable, but no matter how much complaining he does, I make sure he wears it at all times. It only takes a split second for a boating accident to occur and wearing a lifejacket will ensure that your child remains safe and above water in the event of an emergency.
It’s also important for the person driving the boat to be aware of their surroundings. This keeps everyone on board safe. Check the weather conditions before venturing out. If there is the potential for bad weather or storms, it’s best to stay close to shore or reschedule your trip. Plot out a course for your travel, especially if it’s a body of water or area you’re unfamiliar with. If you’re boating at night, use extra caution. It’s always harder to navigate and see in the dark. Take note of all other boaters in your area. Even though most bodies of water have “no wake zone” signs and buoys, not all boaters adhere to these rules. Your best line of defense against aggressive boaters is to be on the defensive yourself. Be aware of your surroundings so that if the need arises, you can make a split second decision. Taking a boater safety course will keep you up to date on boater safety as well.
Invest in Swimming Lessons
Another great way to help keep children safe around water is by teaching them how to swim. You can’t prevent every accident from happening, so preparing your child to react in the water is a huge plus. There are countless programs that offer swim lessons from the YMCA to small, local companies. Signing your child up for swim lessons early-on in life will only help create a positive relationship with them and the water. Children are naturally fast learners and the more comfortable they are around the water, the better.
But with that being said, it’s important your child doesn’t have a false sense of security around the water. Be sure to continue discussing water safety with them and make sure they understand that supervision and proper protection is a must when it comes time to swim or go out on the water. If your child knows how to swim it’s just another layer of protection, but it shouldn’t be the only one.
You Can Never Be Too Careful
This really holds true for many activities involving kids and goes with the old adage, “better safe than sorry”.
I have the perfect example of one such instance. My son recently went fishing with a family friend on a small dock near her home. She let me know when they had arrived and sent me pictures of him and his fishing pole, so I knew he was in good hands. But in the photograph, I noticed that he was wearing a lifejacket, which I thought was a little strange since the water there was only about two-feet deep. But then it dawned on me. Something mentioned earlier in this article. A child can drown in as little as two inches of water. So my friend was completely right and justified in putting my son in a lifejacket, even fishing near such shallow water.
This is the prime example that you can never be too careful when it comes to water safety. Had my son accidentally tripped and fallen in, he could have hit his head or it could have happened when my friend had her back turned. Wearing the lifejacket would increase his chances of safety exponentially!
So as spring and summer approach and your children are itching to get outside, just be sure to monitor their play and help them stay safe. Knowledge is power and discussing water safety with your children is one of the best ways to help solidify its importance.