Poolside safety for children – Fun & Safety in the Water
Ask any child: few activities compare to the sheer joy of jumping into a cool swimming pool on a hot summer’s day or jumping over a cresting wave on a crowded beach. Yet, swimming is not a sport to be taken lightly. Even with lifeguards on duty, anything can go wrong. Here are some tips for ensuring your waterside activities remain fun rather than frightening.
First and foremost, even if you are the next Michael Phelps, never swim alone. This also means that children should never be in any body of water, from an ocean, to a pool, to a wading pool alone. As a nanny, your primary concern must be the well-being of your charge, and therefore, you must be in the water with him or her.
Remain Within Arm’s Length
Many pool or beach swimmers incorrectly assume that if there is a lifeguard posted, then their child is completely safe. However, depending on the health regulations of the area, that lifeguard could be responsible for overseeing large numbers of swimmers. One lifeguard is usually watching more than 20 people at one time, which can be a lot to watch with only two eyes, especially once you begin factoring in distractions and heat exhaustion. Agencies such as the Lifesaving Society and the Red Cross work tirelessly to ensure that lifeguards provide the best supervision possible, but lifeguards are not babysitters.
When swimming with any child (even one that can stand on the bottom with their head out of the water), always remain within an arm’s length. A child that can comfortably swim a length of the pool, or tread water for a minute could still become overwhelmed by a wave, or suffer from a cramp which could result in a drowning. As the caregiver, you must always be aware of the child’s circumstance and be there to provide assistance.
Most importantly – NEVER WATCH FROM THE SIDE. Always be in the water with the children.
Ensure your charges understand that water is fun, but can also be dangerous. Here are some ways to educate them on being safe in and around the water:
- Areas around water often become slick and make it every easy to slip and fall, therefore encourage children to take their time, rather than running.
- Introduce the children to the lifeguards on duty (if there are any), and have the lifeguards point out any dangerous areas and why (currents, diving boards, rocks, etc.).
- Take the children on a short walk around the swimming area before entering for the first time so that they know where key features are (a phone, a first aid kit, dangerous areas, etc.)
- Show children how to properly use safety equipment when they are swimming:
- Ensure children know what an emergency is and how to call for emergency assistance (fire, police, and/or ambulance)
- Know the different between a Lifejacket and a PFD (Personal Floatation Device)
- a Lifejacket is a buoyant aid that slips over your head and covers your chest (with a strap around your back to hold it in place). A Lifejacket is more buoyant than a PFD and is designed to turn you onto your back. This ensures your face is out of the water.
- A PFD looks more like a jacket, or a vest, and covers your torso. It normally does up with clips or a zipper. This is the more commonly used floatation device.
- Avoid using equipment in the water that could be a detriment to the safety of the children. Also educate children about the proper way to use pool toys. These include water wings, noodles, flutter-boards, and bodyboards.
The best way to remain safe is to take preventative measures. Here are some great ways to learn and keep the children in your care safe:
- If you are not comfortable around water, take a swimming class. Municipalities, YMCAs, Universities, and other youth organizations often offer lessons for all ages. It is also worth checking out local newspapers for swim instructors offering private instruction. Learning to swim is more than learning a new sport. It is learning a life skill that could save your life one day.
- If you are not already, become first aid certified. As a nanny, you will be running into countless scenarios that make you crack open that first aid kit. In an aquatic situation, those scenarios become more frequent. First aid courses are offered around the world by organizations such as the Red Cross and the Lifesaving Society.
If you have any questions about water safety, leave a comment below. We’d love to hear from you!
For more information, check out these websites: