Summer is off to a super fun start with camp, family trips and just plain being lazy around the house. But with all of the fun comes the inevitable concern about water safety. Water play is as much a part of a child’s life as bedtime stories, bike rides and sleep overs. So start young and teach your kids the dos and don’ts of water fun.
I grew up on a lake and later at the beach, so water fun has always been a part of my life. My kids are beach goers and have family who have a summer lake house, so we started young teaching them about water safety. But, when water is a part of your life from day one, you often forget or at least minimize the everyday dangers for your children. Now is a great time to remind yourself and your kids how to be safe around water.
Step one: Take a deep breath. Kids respond well to rules and that was my saving grace, because water danger has always been a huge concern of mine. I see how kids get so excited to get to and in the water and worried so much that they would jump first and think second. I felt confident that the swim lessons I gave them and the water rules I reminded them of (every 30 seconds) would keep them safe. So far, so good.
Step two: Lay down some ground rules and stick to them. No wimpy parenting here. Swim lessons are a must; no running around the pool, on the dock or boat; and, for the love of whomever you pray to, supervise your children at all times. I know it is summer and we all want to kick back, have a fruity drink and relax, but we all signed up for this parenting roller coaster and that means being “on” almost 24/7. Book yourself a weekend with your spouse kid-free another time and until then watch them like a hawk.
Step three: Be a good role model. No sense teaching your kids how to be responsible in and around the water if you aren’t. My husband is great at this. If you show your kids that you take water safety serious, there is a greater chance they will, too. So let them see you count the life vests on the boat before you head out. Let them see you check to make sure the pool is safe for use and let them see you pack everything away at day’s end. When the boat and pool are closed, no kids should be near them. Same goes for the beach and lake. Sometimes those huge waves look like a ton of fun.That is the perfect time to remind kids about rip currents and undertow. Even adults can get caught up in the power of the sea. And lakes can have their own danger with heavy boating traffic and unskilled boaters behind the wheel.
Finally: Go over water safety rules from time to time. Don’t just mention it to them in passing each year like some nagging reminder to clean their room. Really stress the importance of it and praise them when they show good water safety sense. When they are older and start to enjoy the water on their own, have them take an advanced water safety class and get their boating license. It will make them feel good and help you enjoy those lazy days of summer better.
The goal isn’t to scare your children, but to educate them just as you would for anything else. Water activities are filled with fun and a lifetime of memories. If you teach your kids early and remind them from time to time of the rules, you can rest easy that summer will be filled with pool parties, beach days and lake fun.