Who doesn't love to hop in the pool or lake to cool off on a hot summer day? Swimming is great exercise and lots of fun but safety must come first. If you plan to take your children swimming this summer, we recommend keeping these things in mind to make sure everyone has a great time:
1. No drinking the water.
While it can't always be avoided, water in swimming pools as well as open water like a lake or the ocean is full of germs that can be harmful to children whose immune systems aren't as strong yet.
2. Enroll them in lessons.
Children can begin learning to swim as young as one year of age so bring them to a professional to help them learn the basics. Children take to water surprisingly quickly and the sooner they learn proper technique (as well as proper pool etiquette) the better.
3. Check weather and water conditions.
If you and your family will be swimming outside, do your research on the beach or park you'll be heading to. Check for information about low and high tide, rip tides and currants, pollution and wildlife as well as the weather so you can prepare accordingly. You should also make a note of whether or not there is a lifeguard in the area and what the temperature of the water is.
4. Pay attention to the sky.
If rain has just fallen, avoid hopping the water as pollution will be at its highest right after heavy rainfall. You should also get out of the water if you hear thunder or see dark clouds rolling in for safety.
5. Use proper flotation devices.
Make sure your child is properly outfitted for their skill level to make sure they stay afloat when playing in the water. Always have floaties and life vests on hand.
6. Be mindful of digestive issues and waste.
To keep the swimming environment safe for both your children and those around them, be sure to have them use the restroom before they get in the water and every hour or so thereafter. Be sure to use diapers made for swimming and change them often. As a good rule of thumb, if your child is experiencing any digestive issues, they should stay out of the water to avoid an accident.
7. Keep ears clean.
To prevent infection, keep your child's inner ears dry with earplugs while swimming and be sure to dry them out once you're done for the day. If your child has ear tubes, make sure to check with their physician first before getting in the water.
8. Check wounds.
If your child has a minor wound like a cut or a scrape, they can swim if the wound isn't bleeding. If they have a cast, check with their doctor to make sure it's waterproof before swimming.
9. Stay hydrated.
All the exertion can make kids dehydrated quickly. Make sure to bring along plenty of bottled water to keep them hydrated in the summer heat. Packing some juice is also a good idea to help boost blood sugar if your little one isn't feeling well along with a few sports drinks in case they do get overheated -- they provide electrolytes.
10. Reapply sunscreen every hour.
While the technology for sunscreens has no doubt improved, no formula is 100 percent waterproof. That means it needs to be applied every hour if you're playing or swimming in water. Be sure to cover all exposed skin, including the lips, eyelids and ears for complete protection.
BONUS: The most popular swimming rule has always been to not swim after a large meal. This is true if your child is tired, as this could pose a drowning risk, but otherwise, swimming on a full stomach is fine.
For more health news and tips, check back here all week long. Stay well!