Warm weather has arrived, and families looking to beat the heat are flocking to pools, beaches, and lakes, or just heading to the backyard for a water balloon fight. While parents generally know that their little ones wouldn’t be safe diving into the water off a rope swing, other hazards are often underemphasized. All kinds of water play from with risks, whether it’s a trip to the beach, or splashing in a kiddie pool. Don’t get complacent. and make sure that you’re prepared! Playing with water is a great way to cool off, but before you do, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the potential dangers.
Any significantly deep water poses a major drowning risk. Always stay close and keep an eye on children at the edges of pools, on docks, or anywhere else near deep water. It’s extremely important to be vigilant, because if someone does slip and fall in they will not make a big splash and call for help. Instead, they’ll automatically apply the instinctive drowning response, where they’ll sink to the bottom, push off with their feet to go up and break the surface to get a breath of air, and repeat. Someone sitting 10 feet away may not even notice that someone is drowning right next to them. Because of that, parents should keep track of where their kids are at all times when playing near sufficiently deep water.
This is not to suggest that shallow water is completely fine. Very young children can drown in as little as 2 inches of water, so supervision is always called for in general as well.
Parents who are very concerned about drowning risks might opt for a slip n’ slide, water balloons, or super soakers. With these types of activities, it’s critical to evaluate the surfaces on which you’ll be playing. Smooth concrete, grass, and wooden decks can quickly become slippery when wet, and can lead to serious injuries if someone were to slip and fall. Of course, not all types of grass, concrete, or wood are equally slippery. As a parent, you’ll need to take steps to identify which areas are unsafe, and restrict access when appropriate.
Activities that involve shallow water and wading need to be approached with special care. Natural bodies of water like streams and lakes are filled with hazards that can cut, bruise, or trip you. Algae coating rocks and logs makes them extremely slippery, and even light currents can destabilize a child’s footing. Sharp rocks, sticks, and other debris can poke and cut as well. Because of this, you should always wear appropriate footwear, and avoid rocky or debris-strewn areas.
Beaches are beautiful and fun, but they can also be the most dangerous place for small children to play. Keep kids in arm’s reach near the water, and keep a close eye on the water. Don’t allow young kids to swim in the ocean. Tidal currents and waves can be unpredictable, and dangerous even for adults.