Guest Author - Gwenn Schurgin O'Keeffe, M.D, F.A.A.P
Swimming is often a highlight of vacations for most kids. Whether at a beach or hotel pool, kids of all ages enjoy time in the water. In fact, for many kids, that is the highlight of the trip! At the same time, water can be dangerous even for competent swimmers, and vacation spots have the added hurdle of more crowded conditions than you might be used to at your home or town pool or beach. As with most safety issues with kids, a bit of thought a head of time and knowing what to look for will go a long way in keeping your kids of all ages safe in the water.
Before you go, talk to your kids about pool and beach safety. Be realistic about your kids swim abilities and fears of the water. Those realities will be the same on vacation. If your child needs water wings at home, bring them on vacation. And, have on hand goggles since pool water tends to have high chlorine to compensate for the added swimmers.
Once at the resort, here are some safety tips to keep in mind:
1. Direct adult supervision is needed for everything involving water. We are our children’s first line of defense!
2. Avoid drinking alcoholic drinks while at the pool with your kids, especially in the sun. You want to stay sharp and be able to attend to them quickly even if a life-guard is on hand.
3. Even good swimmers can drown – never allow children to swim alone, even in small, “wadding” pools. A buddy system is a great line of defense for older children and teenagers.
4. If a child is missing, check the pool or spa first and call for help immediately.
5. Locate the safety equipment and the nearest phone at the pool or beach when you arrive so you can get to it in case of emergency. If your cell phone has reception, bring that along.
6. Check the electric filter if at a pool. It should have a safety cover. If not, kids can get sucked into those filters and serious bodily injury and drowning can occur.
7. If you plan to swim in on vacation, learn CPR before you go. The American Red Cross can help you find classes in your area.
8. If you are swimming from a boat such as tubing or banana boating, everyone needs to wear a life vest.
9. If at a beach, the currents may be stronger than you are used to. While traveling, it is best to use beaches that are recommended by the hotel and supervised if possible.
Here’s to many days of safe water fun for you and your family!