Summer safety part 4: Water safety

Tips and considerations for keeping kids safe around water.

Summer is finally here and after a long winter, it’s easy to forget how important it is to keep our kids safe in the summer. Summer brings about fun in the sun, picnics, days at the beach and so many more fun and relaxing opportunities for friends and families to gather. Keep those summer activities fun by keeping kids safe. In this series of articles from Michigan State University Extension, we will explore some safety issues that may arise during the summer and how to avoid the downfalls associated with them. This article will explore general water safety for children.

One of the best ways to cool off from the hot, summer sun is to play in the water. Whether it’s splashing in a sprinkler, taking a dip in the pool or hanging out by the beach, it’s important to keep kids safe as they cool off. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) H2O Smartz provides adults with tips and considerations for keeping kids safe around water, including safety suggestions for swimming, water parks, weather, boating and jet skiing. They provide the following tips for keeping kids safe in the water:

  • Do learn to swim. If you like to have a good time doing water activities, being a strong swimmer is a must.
  • Do take a friend along. Even though you may be a good swimmer, you never know when you may need help. Having friends around is safer and just more fun!
  • Do know your limits. Watch out for the "too's" — too tired, too cold, too far from safety, too much sun, too much hard activity.
  • Do swim in supervised (watched) areas only, and follow all signs and warnings.
  • Do wear a life jacket when boating, jet skiing, water skiing, rafting or fishing.
  • Do stay alert to currents. They can change quickly! If you get caught in a strong current, don't fight it. Swim parallel to the shore until you have passed through it. Near piers, jetties (lines of big rocks), small dams and docks, the current gets unpredictable and could knock you around. If you find it hard to move around, head to shore. Learn to recognize and watch for dangerous waves and signs of rip currents — water that is a weird color, really choppy, foamy or filled with pieces of stuff.
  • Do keep an eye on the weather. If you spot bad weather like dark clouds or lighting, pack up and take the fun inside.
  • Don’t mess around in the water. Pushing or dunking your friends can get easily out of hand.
  • Don’t dive into shallow water. If you don't know how deep the water is, don't dive.
  • Don’t float where you can't swim. Keep checking to see if the water is too deep, or if you are too far away from the shore or the poolside.

For more information about keeping kids active and safe in the summer, see the related MSU Extension articles:

Other articles in this series

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