Prepare children for summer with water and weather safety tips

| June 4, 2010 | 0 Comments

Courtesy PhotoHONOLULU — Summer is here and with that comes great family fun in the sun and the water, but it is also is time to start thinking about water safety.  

In Hawaii, drowning is a leading cause for accidental deaths among young children, and ranks as the second leading cause nationally, according to the National Safety Council.   

Each year, 4,200 children are treated for submersion injuries at emergency rooms throughout the country. Most of these children were under the supervision of one or both of their parents, when more than 75 percent of them were discovered missing for less than five minutes. 

One of the first lines of protection in water safety is learning how to swim. Children as young as 6 months old can learn the skills to roll over, float and breathe from a facedown position to possibly save themselves from a fall into the water, according to Infant Swimming Resource.  

Children as young as 1 year old can be taught to swim, roll onto their backs to rest and breathe, and then flip over to their stomachs to continue swimming.  

Even if children have already had lessons,  other precautions ensure a safe day at the pool or beach.  Encourage children of all ages to always swim with a buddy and to stay within designated swimming areas, preferably where a lifeguard is present. 

The American Red Cross warns to watch for the “dangerous too’s,” including being too tired, the water being too cold, swimming too far from safety and getting too much sun.  

Everyone knows that parents should never leave children unattended, but this fact is especially important when water is near.  

If sharing pool duties with another adult, be sure the person currently in charge of supervision is aware that it is his or her responsibility. Assuming someone else is watching is an easy, yet grave mistake to make. 

Designate an adult supervisor to watch a child in the water. The responsibility is too great for an older child or sibling.   

Flotation devices can also be a double-edged sword. While they give an inexperienced swimmer the ability to wade into deeper water, they can suddenly slip from under a child. 

Additionally, “water wings” often give parents and children a false sense of security in the water. However, the exception is life jackets, especially while boating.

Parents need to be aware that the sun can be especially brutal on children’s skin. Use sunscreen with a minimum sun protection factor of  45, and put sunscreen on 30 minutes before children head outside, as it is often easier to do before the water tempts them. 

For fair skin, reapply sunscreen as often as every 30-45 minutes, and don’t forget hats and sunglasses.  

Parents need to bring enough snacks and drinks to keep children hydrated during activities, since hydration helps cool the body and regulate temperature.  

Remember that sodas are diuretics, which will actually contribute to dehydration. 

Sugary snacks raise blood sugar levels quickly, but they also drop them down fast. Choose foods that will sustain young bodies, like fruit or peanut butter crackers.

All in all, summer is a wonderful time to enjoy the water. With a few basic safety rules, parents and children are sure to have hours and hours of safe, summer fun.


Water Safety Tips  

Parents and children should regularly practice a host of safety measures around water, including the following tips:

•Constant eyes-on supervision. Never turn your back on children around water. It takes just seconds for them to be in serious trouble. 

Assign supervision responsibilities, so there are never questions about which adult is responsible for watching the child. 

•Safeguard the pool. Build layers of defense around the pool. Permanent four-sided fencing that encloses the entire pool area should be 4- to 6-feet high and equipped with self-closing, self-latching gates. 

•Put toys away. Remove all toys from the pool when they are not in use, as these colorful objects can be very attractive to little eyes. 

Also put away furniture and other objects in a pool area that children might use to climb over a fence into a pool. 

•Eliminate distractions. The leading cause of distractions around a pool is an adult leaving to answer the phone, attending to something inside the home or helping someone else in or around the water. 

If leaving, take the children with you. 

•Teach water safety. Learn and enforce all water rules and, above all, teach by example. Never swim alone, obey lifeguard warnings, don’t run around pool decks, follow “no diving” signs and always wear a lifejacket when boating, fishing or playing in or around deep- or fast-moving water. 

•Beware of flotation device dangers. Flotation devices such as armbands, rings and inflatable toys give parents and children a false sense of security. These devices can shift suddenly, deflate or slip from underneath, leaving a child in a very dangerous situation. 

•Take self-rescue swimming lessons. Research before selecting an effective swimming program and choose a program that will teach children skills to survive in the water. 

Self-rescue skills are vital for infants and young children if they were to end up in the water alone. Instructors should have current CPR, first aid and survival-swimming-skills certifications. 

Visit the Infant Swimming Resource at or, call the American Heart Association of Hawaii at 538-7021, or call the American Red Cross-Hawaii Chapter at 734-2101 for more details. 

(Editor’s Note: Article was provided courtesy of the Infant Swimming Resource.)

Category: Community, Safety

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