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Swimming Safely: Tips from Lifeguards

CHOOSE THE RIGHT LOCATION

Set up camp near a lifeguard station, and introduce yourself and your child to whoever's on duty. If your child is 3 or older, have him memorize the station's number; if you go to the same beach or pool often, choose the same spot each time so it's easy to remember. Litter your blanket or chair with toys and activities to encourage kids to stay put.

WATCH CLOSELY

Always keep your child in sight, even if there's a lifeguard nearby. A bright hat can help her stand out in the crowd.

TEST THE WATERS

Before your child goes into the ocean or a lake, an adult should walk in first to check for sharp shells or rocks underfoot, strong undertow, or steep dropoffs.

SWIM TOGETHER

Accompany children under 6, or older kids who can't swim, into the water. Be sure you can always see your child, even if he knows how to swim. And remember, flotation devices don't offer real protection. Water wings can deflate and fall off, and rafts, tubes, and boogie boards can be swept away. Have him wear a life jacket in addition to, not in lieu of, adult supervision, and check the label to make sure it has been tested by Underwriters Laboratory.

NEVER CRY WOLF

Teach kids never to yell "help" while playing games, so lifeguards can tell when there's a real emergency.

STAY WARM

Even in hot weather, kids can become chilled if they're in the water too long. If your child shivers, gets goosebumps, or his lips or nails turn blue, have him wrap up in a towel and, if possible, sip a warm drink.

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