Splash Safety

July 15, 2021

The Ideal splash pads can be a blast. Here’s how to make sure they’re safe, too.

  • Keep an eye on your kids to make sure they are safe; there is no substitution for supervision.
  • No running, rough-housing or jumping in the splash pad area.
  • Make sure the splash pad you use treats the water to keep it safe for everyone to enjoy. Untreated water can lead to illness.
  • Bring lots of water to drink. Active kids need a lot of water on a hot day.
  • Tell your little ones not to drink the pad water, or they might think the nozzles are water fountains.
  • Have your kids use the bathroom frequently and change soiled diapers immediately to cut down on the risk of contamination.
  • Use a chemical free sunscreen and re-apply often.
  • Use swim shoes to prevent slipping, stepping on sharp objects or burning feet on hot pavement. 

Remember to use every opportunity to talk with your child on how to be safe and stay safe. Most injuries are both predictable and preventable.

Safety at the pool, lake or beach

Swimming is great exercise, as well as a fun way to spend time together as a family. There's nothing like enjoying an afternoon splashing around in the water together. Before taking your kids to the pool or beach, teach them these 10 basic water safety tips to ensure a safe and pleasant water experience.

1. Never swim alone.

Make sure a lifeguard is on duty. Lifeguards don't just watch the people in the pool, lake or ocean. Their job is also to watch the water and advise swimmers on any safety concerns and questionable conditions that might arise. They are also trained to respond quickly when something happens.

In addition to swimming with a lifeguard nearby, a good rule of thumb — for children and adults — is to use the buddy system while swimming. Instruct your child to always swim with a friend or sibling so they can look out for one another if their parents aren't physically in the pool with them. Besides being more fun to swim with a friend, there is someone who can go for help if something goes wrong.

2. Supervise children when they’re in the water.

Parents need time to relax, but when your children are in the water, it's time to be alert. As a general rule, a parent should be within arm's reach of a young child at all times. This rule is true whenever they’re in water -- in a pool, lake, ocean or bathtub. Parents of older children should stay close and keep eyes on them at all times. Even strong swimmers need supervision because kids are prone to trying tricks, flips and dives — all things that can be dangerous in the water.

The best way to remain vigilant when your children are swimming is to put your phone away and just enjoy hanging out with each other! If other adults are present, you can take turns watching the pool, so everyone gets an equal chance to relax. Working together to protect your children is the best way to prevent an accident.

3. Don’t play breath-holding games.

While swimming, children shouldn’t hold their breath for a long time; it creates a dangerous risk for drowning or severe injury. Make sure children understand competing to see who can hold their breath underwater, and other similar games, can be dangerous and should not be part of any water-related activities.

4. Always wear a life vest.

Young children or inexperienced swimmers should always wear a Coast Guard-certified life jacket around water. There are plenty of products on the market claiming to help children stay afloat, such as water wings, floaties and pool noodles, but these are not a substitute for life preservers or lifesaving devices in a genuine emergency. Use these products only when a parent or trustworthy adult is within arm's length of the child.

Also, remember a life jacket or other flotation device should never be an excuse to ignore other water safety guidelines. Life jackets alone are not enough when it comes to staying safe around water.

5. Don’t jump in the water to save a friend.

If a child sees their friend struggling to keep their head above water, their first instinct may be to jump in to help. However, doing so could lead to both people drowning. The YMCA’s Safety Around Water program recommends the “reach, throw, don’t go” technique, which involves using a long object to pull a struggling swimmer to safety. By using this technique, children can help their friend without putting themselves at risk.

6. Enter the water feet first.

Severe injuries can occur by jumping or diving headfirst into shallow water. Make sure your child understands the proper way to enter and exit the pool. If they're interested in jumping and diving, make sure to teach them the correct way to do it, as well as point out the areas where it is safe to do so. If your pool does not have an area designated for diving, do not allow it, no matter how deep the water.

7. Stay away from pool drains.

Children's hair, bathing suits and even limbs have become stuck in broken or faulty drains, which can lead to drowning or serious injury. Teach children to stay away from these areas in pools, especially if a drain is missing a cover or appears otherwise broken. If you notice one that seems to be operating incorrectly, report it immediately.

8. Stay within designated swim areas.

Whether you're swimming in a pool, ocean or lake, staying within the designated swim areas is vital to staying safe. Teach children about ropes and why people use them to divide a pool. Never encourage a child to swim in water deeper than their abilities will allow. If you're swimming in a lake or ocean, always follow guidelines local lifeguards have established. They are familiar with the water and know enough about how it changes from day to day to make wise and up-to-date safety recommendations.

9. Avoid using alcohol.

Alcohol impairs judgment, coordination and balance. It affects a person's ability to swim well, and it can even lower body temperature. Images of teens and young adults enjoying alcohol poolside are common on television and in movies, giving your real-life teens a dangerous picture to copy, so make sure they understand the danger of mixing water play with alcohol.

Parents should also use caution. Never consume alcohol while you're supervising your children in the water. Not only can it cause you to become distracted, but it could leave you unable to function appropriately if an emergency should happen.

10. Learn CPR.

While it’s easy to assume your family will stay safe in the water, unfortunately, accidents happen. If a drowning incident or pool-related accident occurs, bystanders are typically the first available to react and respond. As a parent supervising children, it's critical for you to be familiar with lifesaving techniques, including CPR for children and adults. Knowing how to perform CPR can be the difference between life and death.

 Water safety devices

Inflatable toys, floaties and water wings are teaching aids while children learn to swim. They are best for occasions when a child is under adequate adult supervision, meaning an adult is within arm's length and able to intervene if a child begins to struggle. Used correctly, they can help a child build confidence as they explore the water and learn about both their abilities and limitations. But there is no substitute for a life vest. None of the items listed above will keep a child from drowning or save a child if they begin to struggle in the water.

Whether you’re enjoying one of our neighborhood pools, (like in Valencia or Little River Trails) or one of the many splash pads, (in Featherstone or Trail Woods), the best way to enjoy the summer water season is to play it safe! Splash, jump, yell and scream with glee! Just play it safe!

For more information: YMCA website, My Southern Health website

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