Living near a lake, pond, river or ocean can allow your whole family to bond while swimming and participating in other water-based activities. Always keep your children’s safety top of mind.
Make sure the house has locks that young children can’t unlock when no one is watching. If it’s possible to put up a fence with a locked gate to keep your kids away from the water, even better.
An accidental drowning can happen in seconds. If your kids aren’t strong swimmers, each should wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket designed for a child of his or her size and weight when in or near the water. Floaties, inner tubes and other devices won’t keep a child from drowning if there is a strong wave or riptide.
Set and Enforce Rules
Don’t just tell your kids to stay away from the water; explain why they should, in age-appropriate terms. It can be hard for young children to grasp the seriousness of hazards around them, especially if they have never personally experienced danger or seen someone else in trouble. Expect to have the conversation several times before it really sinks in.
If the water is deep enough for your kids to jump in, teach them to take turns and to give each other enough space to avoid collisions. Don’t let them dive unless you’re sure that the water is deep enough, there is nothing underneath that could cause injuries, they know how to dive correctly and they are supervised.
Keep Your Kids Safe
Make sure a responsible, sober adult who is a good swimmer stays near children at all times when they are close to the water and enforces the rules. Never let a child go in the water alone.
Enroll your kids in swimming lessons when they’re old enough. Getting children acclimated to the water at a young age can help them develop a love of swimming, as well as a respect for the potential danger. Regular practice in the body of water near your house can reinforce lessons taught in formal classes.
Be realistic about your children’s abilities and understand the differences between a pool and an open body of water. A child who does a great job of swimming laps in a pool may struggle if a boat whizzes by on a lake and kicks up a large wave.
Teach your kids about fish and other aquatic wildlife. Educate them about possible dangers and what to do if they encounter a creature while swimming.
Explain that lightning and water are a dangerous mix. Teach your kids to get out of the water immediately if there’s any thunder or lightning or signs that a storm is brewing.
Enjoy Life on the Water
Growing up near a body of water can allow kids to get exercise, enjoy nature and spend quality time with family and friends, but it comes with risks. Teach your kids how to stay safe in the water.