by Cassie Steele –
There’s no better way to cool down from the hot country heat than taking a dip in a local river or lake. But before the fun begins, it’s important to teach your children water safety. Sadly, drowning is the second leading cause of preventable death in under 15’s, according to the National Safety Council. And even though parents are continually cautioned, drownings still happen. Moreover, outdoor swimming is very different to indoor swimming. It requires an extra set of safety issues to consider, including, water currents and temperature. Here’s what to bear in mind.
Check it’s safe to swim
Teach your kids to check if swimming in a particular spot is safe. Look for “no diving” signs or signs altering to dangerous swimming conditions. Make sure there’s a safe place to enter and exit the water. If the water’s covered with algae, don’t go in. Not all algae’s dangerous, but some strains (like cyanobacteria) cause skin irritation and vomiting if swallowed. If you’re planning a swim in a public swimming area, look at your state’s recreation website to check if the water’s safe or contaminated.
Check the current
Currents, waves, and tides can be dangerous; they can move you in different directions and overpower you even in shallow water It’s important to teach your children to always check the current before swimming to keep them safe in the water. You may already know the currents in popular local outdoor swim locations. In other areas, however, you’ll need to investigate the water which may change hourly. Throw in a stick to check how fast the current is. If it moves too fast for your children to swim alongside it, they’ll be in danger of being overpowered by the current.
Check the temperature
While indoor pools average at least 79 degrees fahrenheit, outdoor water is around 70 degrees fahrenheit in comparison. A cold swim is refreshing in the hot weather, but you won’t know just how cold the water is until you’re in it. So, teach your kids to enter the water gradually and safely — rather than jumping right in. After you’ve been in the water for a while, your body temperature cools down. That’s when it’s time to get back onto dry land. If you stay in water long enough to get the shivers, you’re at risk of hypothermia.
Teaching your kids water safety is essential when swimming outdoors in the country. But also remember it’s your job to supervise — regardless of lifeguards or other adults being present. Never leave children unattended near water and establish family rules for swimming: kids must always ask permission to swim and never go alone With these tips, you can keep your family safe and make the most of your outdoor swimming sessions.