Water Safety Essentials for Summer Fun

Planning to enjoy family fun at the beach or pool? Make sure you’re up on the latest safety tips
Written by Mia Weber

Ah summertime–warm weather, rays of sunshine, and action-packed days at the beach or by the pool. Time spent by the water as a family is perfect for making happy memories and enjoying the best of the summer season, but it’s important to be mindful of safety when it comes to children, water, and sun. To enjoy your summer with ease and peace of mind, here are some general safety rules and tips to keep in mind. It’s also a good idea to talk to your pediatrician, other parents you trust, and professionals working at any waterside destinations you may be visiting (such as lifeguards, park rangers, or facilities managers). You can also learn more from trustworthy organizations like HealthyChildren.org.

Invest in Swim Smarts
First of all, it’s a good idea to get your child feeling comfortable around water from a young age. If your toddler (age 1 and up) shows a love of the water or experiencing new things outdoors, try a parent-and-me “swim” class that will serve as a fun bonding experience and acclimate them to the water in a new way. Then, by the time your child turns 4, it’s generally recommended they start formal swim lessons. As your child picks up more skills, keep track of their skills and comfort levels and make time to hop in the water with them to observe their progress.

In a similar vein of learning, parents should invest in learning skills like CPR and other basic first aid in case of an emergency. Practice up on your own swimming to make sure you feel confident in keeping up with an active child in the water assisting them in case they’re in need.

Constant Vigilance 
When you hit the beach or the pool, make sure no child in your care takes a dip without an adult accompanying them or watching them actively from the shore. Set rules with kids about how far they’re allowed to wade or how far they can swim by themselves. For kids under 11 who are solid swimmers, their armpits or tops of their shoulders are usually good benchmarks; for little ones between 5 and 10, they should only go their waist without an adult; under-5 kiddos need a caregiver in the water with them.

Be sure to take note of rules in place at the pool or beach you’re visiting. Be aware whether a lifeguard is on-duty and point them out to children as well. If there are slides or diving boards present, check about age requirements and height or weight requirements; watch kids carefully if you decide they’re ready to try diving, jumping, or sliding. When swimming at a friend’s or relative’s pool, chat with the host about safety and any house rules they may have. Long story short, watchfulness is key!

Trust Us on the Sun Screen
You can’t have fun in the sun without the sun–and sun safety is a big piece of water safety. When you hit the beach (or honestly, when you embark on just about any outdoor activity in the summer sun). Stock up on kid-friendly or baby-friendly sunscreen–if you’re overwhelmed by the choices, ask your pediatrician for a recommendation.

While you’re enjoying your day in the sun, be mindful to re-apply sunscreen throughout the day, and for babies and toddler especially, it’s a good idea to invest in some cute sun hats, sun shirts, and itty-bitty sunglasses. Finally, have plenty of water and healthy snacks to keep your kiddos hydrated and happy in the heat.

Floatie Fun
Our last water safety recommendation is the most fun one! Floaties! Of course it’s important for children to learn to swim unassisted, but it’s also fun (and in the interest of safety for babies and toddlers) to bring some floaties along to family swim-time. From water wings to kickboards to pint-sized inner-tubes, there are tons of age-appropriate and water-safe floatie toys and accessories to take your family’s splashapalooza to the next levels.