Water Safety: Keeping Summer Fun AND Safe

By taking extra steps to teach your children water safety, you can help them make the most out of their summer vacation.

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Getting out of town for the weekend is a great way to unwind and create memories with your family this summer. Whether it’s a cottage trip, a getaway to stay with friends who have a backyard pool, a houseboat trip or an RV excursion, there are numerous ways for everyone to enjoy the warm weather and great outdoors. While planning your summer vacation, it’s important to also remember that water safety should be a priority for the whole family.

A new report released by the Red Cross, The Flotation Report, found that Canadians may often underestimate the importance of water safety. Throughout the 20 years studied, over 80% of boaters who drowned were not wearing lifejackets. Even more concerning, 25% of children who died in boating accidents had no adult supervision.

Help keep your children safe by enrolling them in swimming lessons. This will teach them important water safety knowledge and skills, and allow them to enjoy and respect the water.

Many children look forward to summer vacation all year, and they deserve to have a fun and safe season! Spending time on the water gives the whole family the chance to play outside and stay active. For more tips, visit www.redcross.ca.

Help ensure that you and your kids have a safe and fun summer.

Supervision

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The number-one way to ensure your children are safe around water is to supervise them at all times. Leaving children unattended, even for a minute, can be dangerous. Consider having a designated adult responsible for supervising the children that are in the water. This person should be equipped with a whistle or air horn to notify other adults if they need assistance.

Backyard pools

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Backyard pools are a great way to keep children cool and active in the summer, but they also require extra safety care. Make sure your backyard pool has self-closing and self-latching gates, and is fenced in on all four sides – this is the easiest way to prevent a child from wandering onto a pool deck unsupervised.

Make sure to keep a pool deck free of toys and clutter. This will not only prevent tripping and falling into the pool but also not attract younger children to play too close to the water.

It’s important to make sure all family members and visiting friends are aware of pool rules; create a list of rules together as a family and post it by your pool. If you are visiting a pool, ask your hosts to go over their pool rules with you and your children.

Toddler pools allow younger children to have fun in the water as well. However, just because they don’t hold as much water doesn’t mean they don’t require constant supervision. A small child can drown in only a few centimetres of water – enough to cover the nose and mouth. Never leave your child unattended and be sure to empty toddler pools when they’re not in use.

Lifejackets

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Up to 85 per cent of drowning fatalities could have been prevented if those who had died had worn lifejackets. When boating, make sure everyone on board is wearing a lifejacket or PFD (personal flotation device). Children learn by example and will be less likely to make a fuss about wearing their lifejacket if you’re wearing one as well.

It is essential that your children have properly fitting lifejackets. The lifejacket should fit snuggly with all the buckles, zippers and snaps done up, but still allow room to breathe and move freely. If it can be pulled up over your child’s ears, it’s too big. The same rules apply for you. There are no approved flotation devices for children under 10 kg (20 lbs) in Canada. Transport Canada recommends waiting until your child reaches 10 kg before boating with them.

When you go lifejacket shopping with your child, look for one that has a large collar for head support and waist ties or elastic gathers in the front and back. A safety strap that goes between the legs is also important, as it prevents the device from slipping over the child’s head. Consider picking lifejackets in a bright colour such as red or yellow to make your child easily visible. Also ensure that it is certified by Transport Canada.

Remember that while lifejackets and PFDs are important, they are no substitution for proper supervision.

Open water

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Swimming in open water is very different from a swimming pool. The distance from shore and the water’s depth can often be deceiving, and swimmers have to look out for waves, currents, drop-offs, sandbars, water visibility, undertows and underwater obstacles. Even strong swimmers can be caught off guard by any of these elements.

When swimming with your children in open water, always keep them at arms’ length. This will ensure that no one gets too far away, and that you’re aware of the water conditions.

Be aware of posted signs and signals if you’re on a beach – these will tell you whether the water is safe to enter. Keep an eye on the weather as well, as strong winds can greatly affect swimming conditions.

 

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