Summer means endless days at the beach and pool. On most of these days, the worst thing that’ll happen is a sunburn. But sometimes, they can end in tragedy. So before you pack your beach bag, consider these five things you can do to prevent your kids from drowning this summer.
Last summer, drowning deaths were thrust into the spotlight when Emeline, the 19-month-old daughter of Olympic skier Bode Miller and pro beach volleyball player Morgan Beck Miller drowned in a neighbor’s swimming pool. Many parents were shocked to learn that drowning is the #1 cause of unintentional injury-related death for children aged 1-4, according to the CDC.
In the wake of their unspeakable tragedy, the Millers stressed that an ordinary day can turn deadly in a matter of seconds. It’s terrifying to imagine something like this happening to your family, but it’s equally important to understand the risks—and what you can do about them. Stanford Children’s Health also warns that they can happen in as little as one inch of water: meaning it’s good to practice water safety even at the splash pad.
You can still have fun at the beach or pool this summer. But before you pack a cooler and slather your kids in sunscreen, take a look at these super easy (but totally crucial) ways you can prevent drowning. They could quite literally be a lifesaver.
Choose Pools with Fences
Even if you aren’t planning to spend the day swimming, simply being around a pool can be hazardous: a study of swimming pool drowning deaths in Arizona, Florida, and California found that up to 70% happened at non-swimming times. It only takes a moment for an enterprising toddler to slip away—so if you own a pool, the best investment you can make in your child’s safety is a sturdy fence with a childproof gate. And if you’re planning a warm-weather vacation with toddlers or preschoolers, choose a hotel or condo with a fence around the pool. It may cut down on the places you can visit in the short-term, but it’ll help keep your family safe so you can enjoy many more vacations to come.
Designate a Water Guardian
Of course, you always keep an eye on your kids, but drowning can happen in seconds: less time than it takes to go to the bathroom, fix a sandwich, or help another kid apply sunscreen. That’s why a mom who tragically lost her 3-year-old son in a drowning accident last summer created Water Guardian Tags. These simple lanyards designate the adult wearing them as the “water guardian,” which is kind of like an additional lifeguard who keeps an eye on the water (and an eye out for kids) at all times. They’re an absolute must for events where a bunch of families are hanging out casually around water; show up with a couple to your next pool party or group vacation rental, and you’ll quite literally be a hero.
Teach Your Kids to Swim
Knowing how to safely navigate water can mean the difference between life and death. If you plan to spend time around water this summer (or any other season), consider enrolling your kids in Infant Swim Rescue courses, which teach basic water survival skills to infants as young as six months. As an added bonus, they’ll develop the confidence around water to have a great time in the beach, lake, or pool.
Don’t Count on Floaties
The ubiquitous puddle jumpers you see on literally every toddler within fifty feet of a swimming pool are both adorable and practical when it comes to giving kiddos the confidence to paddle around. But Morgan Miller warns that they can create a false sense of security, making parents less vigilant. “Throw them away and invest in survival swimming lessons!!” she suggests instead.
Save the Drinks for Later
There’s nothing as refreshing as a beer on the beach or a wine cooler by the pool, but alcohol, kids, and water don’t mix. Drinking can make you distracted and slow your response times in case of an emergency, so save the hard stuff for date night or an adults-only getaway, and sip on a flavored seltzer instead.
What do you think of these five tips to prevent your kids from drowning this summer? Did we forget anything important? Sound off in the comments!
YA author, freelance writer, fan of books, beats, babies, Brooklyn. Check out my latest YA novel, When The Beat Drops, out now.