Temperatures are rising, and kids across the country are suiting up for swim season. But if you're a parent, you're probably thinking about how to make sure your kids stay safe while they're having fun around water this summer.
Drowning is the sixth leading cause of unintentional injury or death for people of all ages and the second leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 14, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Keeping your family safe in and around the water is all about knowing how to prevent accidents and handle emergencies. Planning ahead can help you be prepared.
Making sure every member of your family can swim is your first line of defense against water-related accidents, but that shouldn't be your only precaution. Even children who are excellent swimmers should not swim alone. And older children and adults should become certified in CPR to be able to help in case of a water accident.
In addition, there is a variety of safety gear available that can help you prevent accidents as well as respond effectively in an emergency. But remember: no safety device is a substitute for constant adult supervision.
If you have a home swimming pool, a well-secured, heavy-duty plastic cover for periods of non-use can help prevent children from accidentally falling in. And no matter how old your children are, it's a good idea to keep a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life preserver readily accessible in case of an emergency. Check with your insurance company for emergency equipment recommendations and requirements for a home pool.
An ocean dip can mean sharp rocks and sea creatures under foot. Plastic water shoes can help remove the worry and make stepping out into the surf a lot more fun. And for serious swimmers, a high quality set of fog-resistant plastic goggles protects eyes from saltwater sting during a long afternoon swim. Snug-fitting plastic goggles can even let contact lens wearers go for a swim without losing a lens.
Carrying accessible, appropriately sized personal flotation devices - better known as life jackets - while boating is essential. State laws vary, so check with your state boating law administrator or the U.S. Coast Guard for specific requirements. Modern life jackets benefit from features like contoured plastic foam panels for greater comfort and fit.
All passengers also should wear plastic water shoes or boat shoes with skid-resistant soles to prevent slipping on slick decks. It's also a great idea to have a cellphone handy in case of an emergency - keep it in a sealable plastic bag to help protect it from water. And don't forget the importance of staying hydrated while out on the water: shatter-resistant plastic water bottles and cups are a great option for boating.
Swimming and boating can be great summer fun. Putting appropriate thought into preventing water accidents - and how to respond if an accident occurs - is the best way to make sure your family's summer fun stays fun.