As temperatures heat up, your kids are probably digging out their swimsuits and heading for the pool. Afternoons of swimming and splashing can burn up a lot of energy, but pool time fun can also result in accidents. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), each year nearly 350 children under the age of 5 drown in swimming pools. Another 2,600 are treated in emergency rooms for near-drowning incidents. So how do you protect your children around water? Consider these suggestions to help ensure safe summertime fun.
– Put Supervision First: Your little “fish” should never be left unattended around water. Don’t rely on the watchful eye of the lifeguard, either. In a crowded pool of splashing, boisterous children, it’s difficult for a lifeguard to monitor each child. Children can drown in a matter of minutes.
– Do not place objects (e.g., chairs or tables) very near to the pool or spa fence that would allow a youngster to climb over.
– Reaching and throwing aids should always be kept with you. These items should remain stationary and not be misplaced through play activities.
– Pools or spas should never be used if any of the grate outlets are missing or broken..
– Teach your children good pool or spa safety habits: no running, pushing playmates, no jumping on others, no diving, jumping in shallow water or “dunking”.
– Keep toys, particularly tricycles or wheel toys, away from the pool or spa. A child playing with these could accidentally fall into the water.
– During social gatherings, be certain that someone has the major responsibility for watching the children and swimmers at all times.
– Do not permit playful screaming for help (false alarms) which might mask a real emergency.
– Teach your children the most effective way to get out of the pool or spa quickly.
– Do not allow your child to swim immediately after eating a heavy meal.
Cover exposed parts of your child’s skin with moderately strong sunscreen of at least a SPF of 15. It should have UVA and UVB screens in it. Waterproof sunscreens should be used for sports and swimming. A waxy sun block stick can be used around the eyes to keep the sunscreen from burning when they sweat. Parts of the body that need extra protection are the nose, cheeks, shoulder tops and feet. Eyes can also be damaged by excessive sun exposure and should be protected. Sunglasses should have a UV (ultra violet) coating.
– The labels of sunscreens recommend it not to be used on children under 6 months. That is not because there is a known harm to young children, but rather the products have not been tested on infants. Besides, since they can’t yet crawl, what would they be doing in the sun anyway?
Remember that: the little ones, especially, forget to drink or to tell you that they need to drink. If you find the children getting peaked and cranky toward the afternoon, it might be because they’re tired, or it might be because they’re dehydrated. But don’t allow your child to fill up on juice or soft drinks; these are dehydrators. Water or child-appropriate hydrating drinks are best.