Summertime means warm weather and water play. While it is one of the best parts of summer, safety should always be the number one concern. Water safety is essential whether you are around a pool, lake, or the ocean. However, each body of water requires a unique set of safety rules. For the sake of this article, we will focus on the lake and general water safety. We are also going to consider both adult and child safety.
Never Swim Alone
Swimming alone is dangerous for even the strongest swimmer. In a pool, swimmers can hit their heads or fall unexpectedly and injure themselves. Likewise, in a lake or natural water source, swimmers can become entangled in underwater roots or plant life, injure themselves on docks, and get trapped behind rocks or logs. Swimming alone means that there is no one to notice an emergency. This rule is critical for kids and adults to follow. Always have at least one other person around when swimming; this rule means you don’t enter the water alone.
Keep Communication Devices Close
Cellphones or any emergency contact device should be kept close by in emergencies. Unfortunately, emergencies can happen even if you take all of the necessary precautions. You need to contact emergency personnel in the event of an emergency. If you are on a boat or away from cellphone reception, make sure that you can still contact services using an alternative method.
Minimize Diuretics/ Maximize Water or Electrolytes
You can forget how hot it is and how dehydrated you are in the water. Alcohol and caffeinated soft drinks can be water-depleting on hot days. Alcohol is a natural diuretic, and caffeine has some diuretic properties. While soda won’t necessarily make you dehydrate, you don’t want to compound the heat by drinking fluids that are minimally helpful at best. Water is your best bet, but if you are very active or the weather is scorching, you might consider combining electrolytes with water. Sports drinks aren’t the only way to do this any longer. Sugar-free options and electrolyte-enhanced waters are also options.
Slather on the Sunscreen
No one wants a sunburn after a fun day at the lake or pool. Waterproof sunscreen doesn’t last forever, so you shouldn’t forget to reapply sunscreen frequently. If you are in the water, the maximum amount of time to wait between applications is two hours. You can reapply a little more frequently if you start to notice any reddening of the skin. Reddening of the skin, even slightly, may indicate that your sunscreen isn’t working well. Be sure that the sunscreen isn’t expired and is of good quality.
Find Some Shade
A shady spot on the banks or poolside can help you stay cool and protected when you are out of the water. Don’t forget to take breaks to minimize the stress created by exposure to heat and sun. Shade your eyes using large hats or sunglasses as well. The sun can damage your eyes as well as your skin.
Plan for Minor Emergencies
First aid kits with bandages, alcohol wipes, and creams can save the day from cuts and scrapes. While lake water is probably safe, it’s filled with dirt and germs. Scrapes and cuts should be treated immediately to minimize the risk of infection. You probably do not need a state-of-the-art kit, and something for minor scrapes, bites, and stings will do fine. However, if one of the people with you is allergic to stings or bites, be sure that current rescue medications are on hand and that you can operate them.
Food and Drinks
Be sure that you have snacks and drinks available that will not only curb hunger but fuel a great day at the lake or pool. Do not pack foods that will spoil, such as salad dressings, mayonnaise, and dairy products. PB&J is perfect for a day at the lake. Peanut butter is fabulous for fuel and isn’t heavy. Swimming while hungry or overfilled can be dangerous. No, we aren’t going to tout that old myth that you should wait 30 minutes or an hour after eating before swimming. However, large meals can make you feel fatigued. Fatigue and water play do not mix.
Be sure that you have appropriate safety devices for all participants. Those who cannot swim should have life vests or wearable flotation devices that fit their size and don’t unbalance them. When necessary, life vests should be used, but children and adults should understand that they are not foolproof, and care must be taken anyway. Be sure that boats or jet skis have appropriate safety devices.
Take Only Pictures, Leave Only Footprints
The boy scouts teach their members this motto when they camp. No matter where you go, you should keep it in mind, too. Don’t leave behind litter or take things from the lake or pool area. Litter can damage lakes and natural areas, and taking from them can cause issues with the ecosystem. No, taking one stick or rock shouldn’t cause this type of issue, but if every visitor does, it will cause problems.
Whatever you do this summer, enjoy yourself. Safety measures can enhance the fun that you have at the lake or pool. You do not want the children miserable because you forgot the sunscreen or they got food poisoning. You can take precautions to ensure that you all have a fantastic time.
Safety should be your first thought when doing anything as a family this summer. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, don’t forget the hand sanitizer and social distancing. You don’t want to spread germs and share spaces with people who may be infected. If you suspect one of you has been exposed, stay home and swim another day.