Water Safety Tips
Updated: Jul 11
With the summer in full swing and the weather hotter than ever, you may find yourself spending quite a bit of time around the water with your little ones.
Maybe you’re planning a trip to the beach, hitting up a local swimming pool, or you’ve splurged on an inflatable pool for your backyard.
Recently, I (Ashley) have been building on a plot of land that has a pond. And with little ones who are curious and active, thinking through all of the “what ifs” surrounding open water has been top of mind.
It’s not enough to simply tell our children that they need to be careful around the water, nor is it sufficient or realistic to build a fence around the pond. Instead, it requires education and systems set in place to ensure our babies are safe.
Now, and really, always, is the perfect time to brush up on water safety before applying the SPF.
Teach Your Child the Buddy System
Aside from direct parental supervision, the buddy system is a great option to teach your child how to be safe around water.
The buddy system is exactly what it sounds like: teach your child that they should never swim alone, and they should always have a “buddy” with them. This is especially useful in large groups, like at swimming birthday parties, summer camps, or local swimming pools where it’s easy for a lifeguard or adult to not maintain a direct line of sight with every swimmer.
However, the buddy system is also a great tool for less populated areas, like a body of water on your property or the pool in your backyard.
Here are a few tips to teach the buddy system to your child:
Explain to your little one that they should never be around water alone. Tell them that anytime they go near a pool or a body of water, it’s important that they have a buddy with them.
Their buddy should be either an adult or a swimmer of similar swimming abilities (if not better). You can get as specific as you’d like with this. For instance, telling them who is a good buddy (mommy, daddy, cousin Jack) versus who is not a good buddy (their infant sister) can help with any confusion.
Role play swimming buddies. Swimming buddies not only look out for each other, but they can alert adults when something needs attention. For example, if your child’s swimming buddy is having a hard time staying afloat, show your child what they need to do (go get help from an adult or throw a flotation device to their buddy as opposed to trying to “save” their buddy, which can result in your child losing their ability to stay above water).
When your child knows that following the buddy system is important, and they’re equipped with the knowledge of how to be a good buddy, it’s more likely that they’ll follow that practice, even when they aren’t under your direct supervision.
Teach Your Child Water Boundaries
Not only is it important to have a good “rule” like the buddy system in place, but teaching about boundaries is necessary.
In some cases, you can have physical boundaries that you instruct your child to not pass, like a fence. Other times, like with open water at the beach, creating your own boundaries is appropriate.
For instance, setting up a marker (beach chairs or towels) that your child shouldn’t pass unless they’re with an adult is helpful. It will take repetition and practice for your child to be aware of those boundaries and not pass them, but taking the time to teach your little one can be life saving.
Teach Your Child Swimming Skills
Even with systems and boundaries in place, accidents can still happen. For some families, taking swimming lessons, like Infant Swimming Resource (ISR) is a logical next step.
ISR’s philosophy is that your child is the most important key component to drowning prevention. Even with all of the safety measures in place, if your child were to accidentally find themselves in water and were unable to get out, knowing the skills to safely protect themselves is helpful.
However, whether you decide to enroll your child in swimming lessons is up to you. And honestly, even with lessons, that doesn’t always take the risk away.
Other Considerations for Water Safety
Unfortunately, there is not one single thing that you can do to prevent water accidents. It takes a myriad of things to ensure your child is educated about water safety.
Aside from the three main things above that you can teach your child to promote their water safety knowledge and skills, here are a few other ideas to consider:
There are different pool alarms on the market today – some that detect surface level movement and others that detect water pressure changes. In some cases, a pool alarm may be helpful to have.
There are also alarms that your child can wear on their body to alert someone if they submerge under water.
In the event that an emergency does happen, having CPR skills is a valuable tool for parents and caregivers. You can find local classes or take an online course at your own pace.
ISR’s Aquatic Safety List
To get a detailed list of safety tips for activities like boating, hot tub swimming, and even bath time, download and review ISR’s Aquatic Safety List.
We always want to make sure our children are safe, especially around water when accidents can happen in a millisecond. We also want you to have fun and enjoy your summer plans.
The best way to do both?
Ensure that you and your child are prepared by taking a few steps before you hit the water.
The time it takes to become educated and prepared is well worth it.