Tips to keep your kids safe by the water this summer

Summer is in full swing, and Helen DeVos Children's hospital wants to make sure kids are as safe as possible, especially when they're by the water.

Dr. Craig Anderson with Helen DeVos Children's Hospital shares his favorite summer safety pointers relating to swimming and water safety.

Dr. Anderson says time near the water is a good opportunity to practice “positive parenting" or "learning by example." Teach kids what to do instead of saying "no" or "don't". Some examples of positive phrasing include but aren't limited to:

  • "Walk please" instead of "don't run".
  • "Stay in the shallow end" or "wait for me" instead of "don't jump in the deep end" or "don't get in the water without me."

Most infant drownings occur in bathtubs and buckets. Toddlers between 1-4 years most commonly drown in swimming pools. However, many children in this age group drown in ponds, rivers, and lakes.

Parents need to be aware that children can drown in a very small amount of water, even in a bathtub or kiddie pool.  These accidents often occur from lack of supervision and happen fast.

Also when the kids are swimming, be sure to have them wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved floatation device.  Water wings, floating toys or foam noodles can easily slip away from children and leave them in a dangerous place without help.  Approved floatation devices are designed to float kids with heads above water and not come off if it fits appropriately. Children should also wear a lifejacket whenever riding in a boat.

So what can parents do to ensure their child's safety while also allowing them to have the best summer ever?

There should always be a designated parent or adult to watch the kids while they're in the water. An adult should be actively watching the kids at all times, as well as never mixing drugs or alcohol with water activities.

Adults should also be aware of the body of water they allow the kids to swim in. Pools have nice clear water so they can see other swimmers or hazards in the water and depths are posted.  Lakes can be murky or have hidden hazards. Rivers and streams can change because of moving water, so even a place was familiar in the past can change.

Parents are highly encouraged to sign up their child for swimming lessons to help prevent drowning. That’s truer for school age and up than for toddlers, but it never hurts to be prepared.  Don’t rely on your kids’ swimming lessons as a substitute for good parenting, though.

To learn more swimming and water safety tips, or to ask questions, call (866)-989-7999 or visit helendevoschildrens.org.

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