Summer is a great time to hang out by the pool or on the beach and enjoy the hot weather. But for as good as it feels to cool off, it’s important to remember basic water safety. This is particularly true for children and pets, who may not be strong swimmers. Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death for people between ages 5 and 24.1 To prevent unnecessary risk, make sure children are following water safety rules and staying in the designated swim area. While taking your kids and dog to the beach for the first time may be slightly nerve-racking, implementing a few safety precautions can go a long way toward ensuring a fun day in the sun for everyone.
Water safety tips for kids
Children should always be supervised by an adult or lifeguard while playing in the water. Here is a comprehensive list of water safety tips provided by the American Red Cross:2
- Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
- Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone.Use the buddy system no matter what, whether at a public pool or secluded beach.
- Ensure that everyone in the family learns to swim well. Enroll in age-appropriate swim lessons and water orientation classes. Courses are often available through the American Red Cross.
- Never leave a young child unattended near water and do not permit children to solely look after one another near the water; teach children to always ask permission before entering the water.
- Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear life jackets when around the water. Remember that a life jacket is a safety precaution and won’t necessarily ensure that a child is completely safe.
- Establish rules that are pertinent to the children in your family. For example, the American Red Cross advises to set limits based on each person’s ability, do not let anyone play around drains and suction fittings, and do not allow swimmers to hyperventilate before swimming under water or have breath-holding contests.
- Even if you do not plan on swimming, be aware of other potential dangerous factors around natural bodies of water such as lakes and oceans and shoreline. Strong currents, frigid temperatures, wildlife and unseen underwater hazards can put anyone at risk.
- If you go boating, wear a life jacket! Most boating fatalities occur from drowning.
- Avoid excessive alcohol consumption. The American Red Cross notes that alcohol impairs judgment, balance and coordination; affects swimming and diving skills; and reduces the body’s ability to stay warm.
It’s important to remember that any body of water, especially large ones such as lakes and oceans, can be potentially dangerous. Know your limits when entering water that is too deep to stand in.3 Try to remain cognizant on the skill level of those swimming with you to ensure everyone feels comfortable and safe in the water.
Water safety tips for dogs
While many dogs take to swimming naturally, some breeds tire quickly or have trouble paddling. Talk to a veterinary professional to learn if your breed of dog does well in the water, and get vet tech info to find floatation devices that can keep your dog safe. Here are some tips for keeping your dog safe in the water:
- Start dogs off in shallow water in short durations of time so they can get comfortable swimming.4
- Do not force your dog or any other dog in the water. It’s important to remember not all dogs can swim, and being tossed in could be a traumatic experience.
- Never leave a dog unattended in the water.5
- Be aware of strong tides and deep water. Keep dogs away from big waves that might be too much for them to handle.
- Be careful with dogs around the ocean. Dogs can be targets for jellyfish and the salt can damage your dog’s coat. Furthermore, saltwater can make dogs sick if consumed.6
- Always rinse off your dog with clean water after playing in a pool, pond, lake or ocean.
1“Water Safety” Teens Health. July, 2011. http://kidshealth.org/teen/safety/safebasics/water_safety.html#
2“Water Safety” The American Red Cross. http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/water-safety
3“Water Safety” Teens Health. July, 2011. http://kidshealth.org/teen/safety/safebasics/water_safety.html#
4“9 Must Read Tips to Keep Your Dog Afloat” The Dog Channel. July 9, 2014. http://www.dogchannel.com/dog-health/dog-water-safety.aspx
5“Summer Safety Tips” American Kennel Club. http://www.akc.org/public_education/summer_safety.cfm
6“Summer Safety Tips” American Kennel Club. http://www.akc.org/public_education/summer_safety.cfm