It's summertime! Let's all stay safe when swimming

Over Victoria Day weekend, my family had an impromptu invite to go to a friend's cottage by the lake. So, I packed up the car, threw Brandon in and we escaped! (Kidding...we gave my dear husband a chance to get caught up on tons of stuff he wanted to do.)

Today, my friend texted me this picture that was taken on our trip to the cottage and I uploaded it to Instagram because Brandon was so cute concentrating on swimming. It prompted the following conversation:

My little chat with Alison got me thinking, though. Swim safety is so important to prevent anyone from having an incident in the water, but it's particularly important for children who are naturally the most vulnerable. According to the Lifesaving Society's 2011 report [PDF, 1.9MB], approximately 500 people die each year in Canada from drowning, and most are swimming when they get into trouble.

Get the proper equipment for water activities, starting with a good lifejacket for weak or non-swimmers and any child under 5.

Having a cute swimsuit is fun, but a functional life-saving device, a.k.a, lifejacket, is more important. Anytime he was by the lake, Brandon had to be wearing his life jacket. He floated out beyond where his feet could touch the bottom numerous times, thinking it was a fun game when our host pushed him back to shore with the dinghy. If he hadn't been wearing a good lifejacket, that "game" wouldn't have been fun at all.

I also consulted the Lifesaving Society's drowning and water safety guidelines and here's what they had to say for children:

  • Restrict and control access to the water. Enclose backyard pools on all four sides with a fence and a self-latching, self-closing gate; drain bathtubs when not in use; empty unattended wading pools and buckets.
  • Wear a lifejacket when boating. Toddlers should wear a lifejacket anytime they are near water.
  • Stay within arms’ reach of young children when they are near water – in the backyard, the beach and in the bathroom.
  • Go to lifeguard-supervised beaches and pools.
  • Learn to swim. Enroll children in swimming lessons and in a swimming survival program such as the Lifesaving Society’s Swim to Survive.
  • In the winter, check ice before going out on it – clear, hard, new ice is the safest for travel. Avoid slushy or moving ice and ice that has thawed and refrozen.

HA! That last one just amuses me at this time of year, but it's serious business in the spring and fall.

BONUS! Don't forget to pack the sunscreen and drink lots of water.

I do not tan - never have, never will - and my son has inherited my pale genes, but even if you do tan, it's not safe to stay in the sun for prolonged periods without some protection. Trust me - after a sunburn that blistered (badly) when I was twelve and forgot my sunscreen for a canoe trip, I do everything I can to avoid getting burnt.

These recent hot, hot, hot days are great if you like the heat, but don't bask in it too long without staying hydrated.

What other rules do you have for water safety in your family?

*****

Karen Wilson is a wife to Matt and mom to Brandon (4), who blogs about her life at Karen’s Chronicles. She can be found at Wellman Wilson, helping business use social media more effectively. Lately, she’s also busy planning a little conference and doing her part to keep the coffee industry alive.

Be Water Wise

by Amanda This week is National Drowning Prevention week and as an Instructor Trainer with the Lifesaving Society of Canada and former trainer with the Canadian Red Cross I cannot stress enough that EVERY SINGLE DAY you should be water wise and aware!

Drownings happen, they happen more often than we would like and it's generally when we least expect them to happen.  Did you know, according to the Lifesaving Society’s Drowning  Fact Sheet, that drowning is the second leading cause of preventable death for children under 10 years of age.

Who is most at risk for drowning? Toddlers and young children are most at risk followed by men between the ages of 18 and 34.  Young children do not have the physical ability for swimming nor do they mental ability to understand the dangers of water.  They are curious, the water looks interesting or fun and before you know it an emergency has happened.  I call it an emergency and not an accident because accidents are something that cannot be prevented.  Drownings can be prevented.  In my opinion there is no reason for a drowning to ever occur. 

It comes down to the Lifesaving Society’s message “IF YOU ARE NOT WITHIN ARMS REACH YOU HAVE GONE TOO FAR”, it's a simple message that needs to be taken more seriously. I have seen many times parents who quickly leave their child by the pools edge to grab a lifejacket, favourite toy or a towel to wipe the chlorine away from their eyes. It takes a split second. I have jumped into a pool to quickly grab a curious toddler more times than I can count. If the child would have been within arms reach of an adult I would not of had to jump in for the rescue.

Teach your child a few simple rules when around the water, whether it's the local wading pool, the bathtub, cottage or community centre. Start from a young age, before they are even able to communicate with you so it becomes second nature to them. Repeat, repeat, repeat! Repetition is key to assisting your child to remember the rules of the water.  Then remember Monkey See, Monkey Do! Display water safe behaviour that you would like your child to mimic.

1. Stop! Look! Listen!  They STOP before entering the water. LOOK around to see if there are any hazards around the water and to make sure you, or another responsibility adult who they know, are right there within arms reach.   Then LISTEN for the adult to tell them they are able to enter the water.  Also make sure that the adult always enters the water first, protecting the child from any water drop offs or deep water levels.  You may also create actions of having your child STOP with their hand up making a stop sign. LOOK, make a motion of looking through binoculars or gazing around the water.  LISTEN, place your hands to your ears to show that you are listening for your name and to be told its safe to enter.

 2. Stop! Look! Go Slow!  With the same actions as above for the STOP and the LOOK, teach your child to always enter the water SLOWLY. Whether the water environment you are in is familiar or not conditions may have changed since the last time you entered.

 3. WITHIN ARMS REACH!  Your child should understand this concept so well that if you happen to forget they should remind you or follow you out of the water. 

The next time you go for a family swim and are splashing around with your loved ones please remember that even though its a fun activity its a dangerous place to be. Be safe and water wise!

Amanda is mom to Dominic, 2 months, and can be found blogging about life, product reviews & giveaways at Namaste Mommy, PTPA Panel of Moms & Tools for Schools.  When not feeding and changing diapers Amanda is busy with her company DeGrace Energetics & Little Lotus.

p.s. Amanda is having a great giveaway on her blog at http://namastemommy.wordpress.com for the PTPA Award Winning Cuddly Wrap It's a great way to keep your baby close while running after your other children around the water!