Water Safety Tips for Little Mermaids and Mermen

Monday, July 20, 2015


child-swimming-in-arms-reachOn a hot summer’s day, a sparkling lake or pool is irresistible. But water can also be a dangerous place if precautions aren’t taken, particularly where young swimmers are concerned.

Drowning is the leading cause of death in children ages one to four. National Drowning Prevention Week (July 19 – 25) is a good time to remind parents of water safety tips to protect their little mermaids and mermen.

In view and within arm’s reach

Adults generally listen for sounds of urgent splashing or screams when children are in the water as signs of trouble, but a child can actually drown very quickly and quietly, even in just a few centimetres of water.

Young children and inexperienced swimmers need to be carefully supervised, in view and within arm’s reach at all times while they are in the water. You must be ready to jump in at a moment’s notice.

This is true even when children are wearing swimming aids such as armbands, floating seats, water wings and neck rings, as these devices provide a false sense of security – but they are not intended to be lifesavers.

Lessons and lifejackets save lives

You can help ensure your child’s safety by enrolling them in swimming lessons as well as water safety courses. It’s also a good idea for parents to learn basic first aid skills.

Make sure all young children and inexperienced swimmers are wearing an approved lifejacket or personal flotation device before entering the water. 

Things to remember at the beach or a lake

  • Before allowing kids to wade in, make sure the water is safe for swimming. Check with your municipality for health and safety notices first, such as water pollution levels or a strong undercurrent.
  • Remember that still waters run deep. You never know when a swimmer might drop into a deep part of the lake, or when rapid water movement can pull a swimmer under.
  • In a lake, you can’t always see the bottom. There are often weeds and debris that swimmers can get caught in, or broken glass, clam shells, fishing hooks and other sharp objects that could cause an injury. Bring a first aid kit with you.

How to make a backyard pool safer

  • Build a fence at least 1.2 metres high all the way around the pool.
  • Install a self-closing and self-latching gate. The latch should be beyond a child’s reach. Keep the gate locked at all times.
  • Keep garden furniture and other large items away from the pool fence so children aren’t tempted to climb on them to get over the fence and into the pool.
  • Keep lifesaving equipment and a first aid kit nearby.
  • Keep a safety cover on your pool when it is not in use to discourage would-be swimmers from going in.

Are pool toys safe?

Visit any backyard pool and you’ll find a plethora of brightly coloured toys and floatation devices: air mattresses, inflatable slides, pool noodles, water guns and sprayers, and mermaid tails. And why not? They are part of the fun of swimming! But are they safe?

Water toys can be a great addition to backyard pool fun provided you keep these things in mind:

  • No water toy is intended to be used a lifesaving device and should never serve as a replacement for a lifejacket or a safety ring with a rope.
  • Water toys should stay in the pool when in use. Afterwards, they should be stored in an enclosed area or container. If they are left on the pool deck, someone could trip over them and fall into the water.
  • Only experienced swimmers or swimmers with personal floatation devices should be allowed to play with pool toys. They can easily get distracted while playing, and not realize they are in danger.
  • In the case of mermaid tails, which constrict the legs, make sure that the swimmer can tread water for two minutes and swim a couple lengths of the pool with confidence while wearing the tail. The tail should only be worn in the pool, not on the pool deck to avoid injury. 
  • If your pool is crowded with swimmers, restrict the number of pool toys in the water to improve visibility and avoid the chance of someone getting hurt by a fin or spray gun.

Sun and water just naturally go together. Keep a watchful eye, employ proven safety precautions, and make it a safe summer for all.

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