Put on your floaties! It's time for water safety for kids
Supervision is critical.
A "sink or swim" mentality isn't the best way to teach kids to love--and respect--the water. Most pediatricians recommend starting with swimming lessons from a qualified instructor as early as age 1. Small children can learn "water survival" tricks like floating on your back, while older kids can build strength and learn more efficient swimming techniques in more advanced classes.
Invest in high-quality safety gear.
This means not relying on older siblings' hand-me-downs, too! Always check that floaties, water wings, and life jackets are up to Coast Guard standards and still in usable shape. Check any inflatables for holes or leaks, and make sure your kids know to check with an adult if they feel like their gear is coming loose or not working as well. Plus, be sure to slather on that sunscreen and pop on your favorite pair of floating sunglasses!
Teach the buddy system.
It's important for kids to never swim alone. Incorporate the buddy system into trips to the pool, beach, or lake. Not only is it safer to have someone out in the water with you in case you run into trouble, it becomes a lot more fun!
Look out for wildlife.
Teach your kids to identify common beach-goers like jellyfish and Portuguese man-of-war. Dispel any rumors about... less-than-hygienic jellyfish sting cures, and make sure they know to find an adult if they ever get stung. If you're headed out to a local lake or park, brush up on local wildlife you might find in the area. For example, make sure kids know what an alligator looks like when it's swimming on the surface of the water (and remember -- most wildlife is much more scared of YOU than you are of IT!).
Find learning opportunities about currents and tides.
Most lifeguard stations and public beaches use the same flag system to warn about tides and currents. Make sure your kids know what each of these flags mean--green is for gentle water, yellow is for rough, and red is for dangerous--and develop a set of family rules for when it's time to get out of the water.
Make sure your kids know about riptides.
Riptides are one of the most dangerous parts of going to the beach. These ultra-strong currents can whip even the strongest swimmers out to deep water before they realize what's happening. The trick to escaping a rip tide is to swim parallel to shore until the current stops pulling you out, then swim diagonally back to shore. Swimming directly against the current can tire you out more and get you into trouble. If you're struggling to make it safely back to shore, tread water to conserve energy and call for help from a lifeguard. (Parents -- this is where supervision comes in handy!)
Be smart about water sports.
Before your kids jump on their first jet skis, make sure they understand the basics of water sports safety. Explain how things like jet skis or boats work, and give them the opportunity to watch while you drive. Make sure kids know what to do if they fall off, and are aware of any potential safety risks. (And of course, be sure to check with local regulations on rentals and operation--your kiddo might need to wait until next summer before taking that spin!)
Watch your feet.
We all know the feeling of stepping on a sharp shell or rock! Save your kids the trouble with water shoes or aquasocks. If they're ready to run barefoot, teach them to shuffle their feet along the ground when they're in the water, so they don't accidentally step on things like shells or horseshoe crabs.
Keep an eye (and an ear!) out for storms.
Lightning is one of the most dangerous things a swimmer can face in the water. The usual rules for lightning safety don't apply when you're in the water: if you hear thunder or see lightning, you need to get out NOW. Always follow adults' and lifeguards' instructions when it comes to weather safety.
Stop when you get tired.
Perhaps most important of all, it's critical to quit while you're ahead. If your kids are getting tired from a day in the waves, call it quits while everyone is still having fun. Not only does this keep kids out of danger in the water, it also (hopefully) reduces the tears and sibling fights that can come from overtired, sunned-out kids on the way home.
As summer approaches, we hope you and your family are gearing up for a season of fun, safe, and sunny activities! Be sure to stock up on your favorite sunglasses before you hit the beach, and let us know what you're up to this summer by tagging us on Instagram at @bombereyewear!
We'll meet you in the waves!