During the hot summer months, swimming in pools, lakes, ponds, and seas brings not only cool relief, but also the fun of relaxation. However, water can also be dangerous for kids if the proper precautions aren’t taken.
According to statistics, drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death for people between the ages of 5 and 24. Nearly 170,000 children around the world drown every year; most drowning occurs in swimming pools.
Kids need constant supervision around water, regardless of whether it’s in a bathtub, wading pool, ornamental fish pond, swimming pool, spa, beach, or lake. Young children are especially vulnerable; they can drown in less than 2 inches (6cm) of water. However, we can ensure our kids’ safety and our own by taking the right precautions.
Safety first: Buy a life vest for your child. Check the weight and size recommendations on the label, then have your child try it on to make sure it fits snugly. Don’t forget to put on sunscreen before getting into the water and reapply frequently – especially when the kids get wet. UV sunglasses, hats, and protective clothing can also provide sun protection.
Prevent dehydration: It’s easy to get dehydrated in the sun, especially when kids are keeping active and sweating. Dizziness, lightheadedness, and nausea are just some of the signs of dehydration and overheating. Drink plenty of fluids – especially water – to prevent dehydration.
Pay attention to water temperature: Enter the water slowly and make sure it feels comfortable for you and your child. A temperature below 20°C is too cold for most swimmers. In general, 28°C to 30°C is ideal for kids’ recreational swimming. Body temperature drops more rapidly in water than on land, so it doesn’t take long for hypothermia to set in. If a child is shivering or experiencing muscle cramps, get him or her out of the water immediately while keeping them warm.
The above tips are courtesy of Hong Kong International Medical Center, Beijing.
Photo by tom@hk via Flickr