Biking, playing outside and swimming are some of our favorite summertime activities. But all that fun also comes with some risk. Recently, Chicago Parent teamed up with Goldfish Swim Schools and the Ann& Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital Safe Kids Chicago program to talk about summer safety.
Here are 10 great tips every parent can put to good use this summer:
- Prevent drowning. Often, if a child falls in the pool, they tend to try to swim toward what they see, which is often across the pool, says Rebecca McGregor of Goldfish’s Elmhurst location. Instead, practice this skill together: Have them fall into the pool, turn around and climb back out. Here is another good skill: Teach them to roll over and float on their back to catch their breath in case they are ever in an emergency situation.
- Protect their skin. Amy Hill of Safe Kids recommends using clothing, such as a hat, long-sleeve shirt, rash guard shirt with SPF, as a first line of defense against sunburn. Rely on a broad-spectrum sunscreen, SPF 30-50, as a second line of defense. Reapply sunscreen every two hours or after swimming or sweating.
- Enforce wearing a bike helmet (that goes for parents, too). Make it as mandatory as a seatbelt in the car. Even kids in bike trailers should have a helmet. Look for helmets stating that they meet ASTM standards. It’s also important to get a good fit. Here’s a link to a simple helmet fitting video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZ4wWoChSe8
- Never leave a child in a vehicle for any length of time, even on a cool day. The heat can cause a child’s inner core temperature to rise very quickly.
- Teach kids to make eye contact with the drivers of vehicles before crossing the street. If kids can’t make eye contact, Hill says it is likely the driver might be distracted and does not see the child.
- Do not rely on water wings and flotation devices to keep kids safe in the water. They can give kids a false sense of security. Spend time in the pool without floatation devices to increase kids’ awareness of their true abilities. If you use devices, make sure they are U.S. Coast Guard approved.
- Always designate a water watcher, even for shallow kiddie pools. The designated water watcher should not be in their phone, reading a book or magazine or otherwise distracted from keeping their eyes on the kids.
- Swim only at beaches and pools with lifeguards.
- Prevent burns at the playground. Always check the temperature of the slide and other surfaces before allowing kids to use them.
- Be careful with pool toys. All pool toys come with a risk, but give parents a false sense of security. No toy should be considered a safe floatation device. Also, avoid toys that cover a large surface in the pool, which could prevent the designated pool watcher from seeing a problem.
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Select Goldfish Swim Schools around Chicago are hosting its annual Water Safety Day this weekend, Saturday, May 20. The activities include water safety presentations, water safety skills stations in the pool for kids to practice, free open swim, visits from local police and fire departments and games.
The day is free and open to the public. Call the Goldfish Swim School location near you.