I admit it, I’m going through a phase. You know, the one where everything that used to be fun and carefree now completely terrifies me when it comes to participating in it with a kiddo in tow.
…and I only have one. Yikes!
One of the biggest concerns now that the sun has returned from Florida for the summer, the pools and water parks are opening and the beach is a daily event is how to make water fun safe and carefree for everyone involved.
The Canadian Institute for Health Information reports a startling reality in that drowning is the second leading cause of death among children under five. Toddlers account for at least half of all near-drowning accidents in Canada and surprisingly, most (76%) drownings don’t happen while swimming, but from falling into water from a pool deck, on the beach or from a boat. Children can drown in less than 4 cm of water.
Those numbers alone are enough to make me want to avoid water at all costs. But, my water baby would surely not think me Mommy Dearest for doing such a horrible thing. So, I went on the hunt for water safety tips, one very serious life jacket and other tools to keep kiddos safe while taking a dip.
The most kid-friendly site I found was The Public Health Agency of Canada Action Hero kids information page on summer water safety. Click through and you’ll find fun, kid-sized space to talk about water safety with your kids.
Other spots, including Red Cross of Canada, have a wide range of safety tools. My favorite was the Red Cross Boatsmart Canada page that details how to choose the right PFD for your child. I don’t think you could make a more important purchase this summer than a top quality PFD in terms of safety.
One of the big points made when purchasing a PFD is to make sure that it is Canadian Coast Guard-approved. That, honestly, isn’t easy to find since that approval rating is given to PFDs made out of only the most durable fabric and safety regulations.
Here are some other tips from the Canadian Red Cross website:
Canadian Red Cross, leader in drowning research, swimming and water safety, is deeply concerned about the number of drowning and near-drowning incidents this summer and is strongly urging Canadians to make safety a priority.
Drowning deaths are preventable. The Canadian Red Cross encourages people to keep the following tips in mind to ensure being around the water is not only fun but safe as well.
How to avoid water-related injuries:
* Regardless of the location, ensure children are supervised; whether at home or on vacation. Adult supervision is the best protection for children – even for those who can swim.
* Ensure that your backyard pool is fully fenced with a self-closing, self-latching gate.
* When not using your home pool, clear all toys out of the water and away from the edge. These can often tempt children to the water’s edge.
* Ensure you have emergency equipment including a first aid kit and a phone in the immediate pool area.
* When boating, ensure everyone in the boat has their life jacket on and fastened.
* Don’t consume alcohol before or during swimming or boating activities.
* Be cautious about swimming in currents, and know what to do if you get into trouble.
* Get trained through swimming and water safety lessons; get your Pleasure Craft Operator Card if you operate a boat; know how to respond in an emergency by taking first aid lessons.
Life Jacket Safety Checklist:
* Is it Canadian-approved?
* Will it support the person it was made for?
* Are all the snaps, belts, ties, tapes and/or zippers on your life jacket or PFD in good condition?
* Is it easy to put on and take off?
* Can you move your arms freely when wearing it?
* Does it let you bend at the waist?
* Can you see the ground at your feet and walk over obstacles easily?
* Does it keep your head above water?
* Relax in the water face down. Does your life jacket roll you to a face-up position?
* Can you swim and manoeuvre easily in the water?
* Have you attached a whistle to your flotation device?
Now it’s time to head out with some peace of mind and have a great time on the water. Don’t forget that you can always check out the availability of PFDs at the Comox dock before heading out, as they have a program up and running that provides them for youth.