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Keeping Your Child Safe Around the Hidden Dangers of Water

A mother and freelance writer, Meagan loves to research and learn new things. Her biggest passion is sharing those things with other people.

Learn how to keep your child safe around water this summer!

Learn how to keep your child safe around water this summer!

Hidden Dangers for Children Around Water

There are many situations where you may find yourself near water with your children, e.g., going to camp for the weekend, at a waterpark, at the beach, visiting the ocean, or in your own backyard! Many summer adventures include water in some shape or form. It is essential for a parent to understand all of the ways in which being near water could be harmful to their children and themselves!

The best way to keep your children safe in any situation is to understand your environment and the dangers that it includes. If you are unaware of a potential risk, then you will not be prepared for the effects of It. There is no such thing as an over-prepared parent! Trust me, I know!

I am that lady that brings eighty bags to the beach with two children! People might make fun of me, but who is laughing when they are rummaging through their stuff because they realized they forgot something? "Oh sweety, you forgot water? Here you are, I have extra!", "Aww, you didn't bring sunblock? I have three bottles, go ahead and keep one", or "You didn't bring lunch? Allow me to pull out my stove and kitchen sink and we will whip something up together"! Seriously though, I would rather be over-prepared than not prepared any day of the week!

Water safety is no laughing matter! Here are some helpful reminders and tips for anyone planning water adventures during the summer or any time of the year:

  • Cover pools and put up fencing.
  • Dump small pools when not in use.
  • Keep toys away from the pool.
  • Restrict pool access.
  • Pay attention during water games.
  • Beware of dry drowning.
  • Beware of secondary drowning.
  • Always supervise your children.
  • Check for hypothermia.
  • Ward off dehydration.
  • Look out for underwater dangers.
  • Find the lifeguard.
  • Know the currents.
  • Watch out for nature.
  • Exercise caution around surf conditions.
  • Use sunblock.
  • Watch for pollution.
  • Use a buddy system.
  • Talk with your group.
  • Play safe around water!

Cover Pools and Put Up Fencing

Pool coverings should be used constantly and not just put on during the winter. They can greatly reduce the chances of an accidental drowning. Plus, you won't have to worry about your neighbors sneaking in for a midnight swim!

Fencing is a must have if you have any small children in your home or neighborhood. In fact, most homeowners insurance will not cover someone with a pool unless they have fencing that meets their required specifications!

Dump Small Pools When Not in Use

Most people don't think about small wading pools, but even those can be fatal to a small child! Children can drown in an inch of water, and since most of them hold much more then that, they are a drowning risk.

It only takes a few minutes to fill them when you want to use it, and is easy enough to empty each night, Even people who do not have children, but use them for their animals, should be aware and keep them empty. Most apartment buildings and housing units have made this a rule!

Pool toys being dangerous is something that would be easily overlooked!

Pool toys being dangerous is something that would be easily overlooked!

Keep Toys Away From the Pool

Keeping brightly colored floatation devices and toys in your pool is like showing a toddler a toy store! Who wouldn't want to play with the giant pink duckie? Unfortunately, while trying to get the ducky the child fell in and could not swim. You can see the message here - and if you had your pool covering on then this would not be an issue anyway, right?

Restrict Pool Access

I don't know how I feel about this piece of advice, but I have heard it since I was a little girl! People take the ladders out of above ground pools to keep children from being able to climb into said pool. I wonder though, if a child finds a way in, how will they get out? However, I'm sure it is much harder to climb into a tall pool when the ladder is not present!

Make sure to cut down any trees that could be climbed near the pool, and be aware of any walls that could grant access to the water as well.

Pay Attention During Water Games

This sounds obvious but is something that can be easily overlooked. If you have a water balloon fight in your backyard, make sure you pick up the tiny pieces of the balloon that are left behind when it pops. A lawn full of brightly colored balloon skins may look like a yummy snack to a small child, and there are several cases each year of children who have choked on deflated balloons.

Also, cheaply made pool toys can be cause for alarm in some instances. Some of the ones designed to be blown into could have small parts, that are not well attached. I recently bought pool toys at the dollar store because I figured it was a great deal for something I would only use for the summer. They broke into pieces the very first time we used them, and I guess I should have expected that but I honestly never thought of it! Just be aware!

Beware of Dry Drowning

If you have never heard of this very rare condition, you are not alone! Most parents have no idea what it is, and when their child gets a bit of water in their nose, they don't worry about it too much. However, in rare cases this small bit of water can cause a spasm in the airway thus cutting of a child's ability to breathe.

The scary part is that your kid could get water in their nose, sputter and cough a bit, continue swimming for up to an hour, and then begin having trouble breathing. Knowing about the condition can raise your awareness towards it and help you identify it sooner.

Beware of Secondary Drowning

Secondary drowning is much like dry drowning, but instead of closing the airway, the water gets inhaled into the lung and causes swelling. The inflammation makes it hard for the lungs to work properly.

This can happen up to 24 hours after your child inhales any bit of water. There are signs you can watch for if you know your little one ingested any water. Coughing. fatigue, confusion, labored breathing, and vomiting are the biggest symptoms of secondary drowning.

Always Supervise Your Children

Just because your son or daughter was born swimming, doesn't mean they cannot drown! Even the best swimmers can get caught in troubling situations, and you never know when that could happen! Don't allow them to swim alone because they are "good swimmers"!

Check for Hypothermia

That's right! You don't have to be on top of a mountain for this to happen to you! Your body loses heat more rapidly in water, so watch for the signs in your children. If they start shivering uncontrollably, complaining of bad leg cramps, or their lips are blue, remove them from the water and warm them up!

Ward Off Dehydration

It's hard to imagine being dehydrated when you are literally soaking in water, but that's probably why it goes unnoticed so often! Just make sure you bring lots of extra fluid along for any day in the sun activities!

Look Out for Underwater Dangers

Public beaches are usually not supervised at night, and while it is advised against, some people do find them to be great hang-out spots at night. Be cautious when allowing your child in any body of water that is not a pool. Jagged rocks and broken glass could quickly ruin a day at the beach!

Another thing to keep in mind when swimming in any natural body of water, is how quickly the water depth can change! It could be two inches and then suddenly eight feet, so make sure your children know their boundaries!

Avoid accidents by talking to the lifeguard on duty!

Avoid accidents by talking to the lifeguard on duty!

Find the Lifeguard

Before you allow your children to roam free, have a quick chat with the lifeguard. Yeah, most of them are still in high school, but they spend way more time there than you do! Ask them where the dangerous spots are, big rocks, currents, etc. This is something that no one thinks about, but that is what they are there for.

Know the Currents

A current could spell disaster in an instant for a full grown adult, let alone a young child who is swimming alone! Be aware of where the currents normally are (the lifeguard will know!) and teach your children how avoid a current, and what to do if ever caught in one.

If you ever find yourself being dragged further out to sea by a current, swim parallel to the shore, and if you can raise your arms and make a lot of eye catching noise! Don't panic because that will cause you to lose focus and possibly drown!

Watch out for Nature

There are a handful of marine creatures that could hurt you if bothered. Leaches in small doses are harmless, but if enough of them latch on you could lose a lot of blood! Jellyfish and sting rays can be almost invisible to a swimmer until it is too late, and sharks are obviously not a fish you want to Tango with! Know your surroundings, what plants and animals you should avoid, and talk with your children about it.

PS. Jellyfish can sting even when they are dead, so even though Sponge Bob loves jelly fishing, your child should avoid that hobby!

Exercise Caution Around Surf Conditions

Waves can be fun to jump and play in and the ocean's surf is great for this, but beware of big waves and shore breaks! They can knock an adult down with severe force, and in some cases cause spinal and head injuries! Imagine what that could mean for a child! Be cautious, and talk to that freaking lifeguard!

Always use sunblock on children when they are outside, especially around water!

Always use sunblock on children when they are outside, especially around water!

Use Sunblock

If you do forget yours, find the bag lady, she has extra trust me!

As funny as that was, sunburns are no laughing matter! Even with a mild burn, you are going to be uncomfortable and itchy! A more severe sunburn could result in blisters, third degree burns, and even sun poisoning! Make sure to apply it well before going into the water, and keep re-applying throughout the day.

Watch for Pollution

There are a number of things that can cause pollution to water, camps with illegal sewer drainage, contaminants in the soil, people dumping trash, and even large populations of ducks can cause the water to become unsafe.

There was one summer when I was a young girl that we were not allowed to go swimming because the water was low, and because of duck poo, not safe to swim in. I don't know if that were true, or a lie told to me by my parents who didn't want to go to the beach, but it could have been true!

There are websites online that you can use to research larger bodies of water, to find out if they are or ever have been deemed unsafe to swim in.

Use a Buddy System

Make sure everyone is partnered up at all times, especially when they are in the water! This doesn't mean have your three year old watch your two year old while you nap in the sun! Just make sure everyone is watching out for one another, and no one is swimming alone!

Talk With Your Group

You would be amazed if you knew how many accidental drownings included the story "I thought so-and-so was watching them ..."! If you are with a bigger group, don't just assume someone else is watching your child. If you have to step away, tell someone!

Play Safe Around Water!

Playing in or around water is how people have beat the heat for centuries, and I don't see it changing anytime soon! It is the best way to cool off on a hot summer day! In fact, it is so much fun splashing around a pool, or throwing water balloons at each other, that parents tend to ignore the dangers of it. Here are some important things to remember while playing in or near water with your children!

On average in the United States alone, ten people die every day as a result of accidental drownings, that are unrelated to boats. One in every five of those are children under the age of fourteen! Additionally, another three hundred and thirty two more died every year due to boating accidents! You can find more statistics about drowning related deaths here.

There are numerous dangers that arise when dealing with water safety and children, especially young children. Accidents near water could prove fatal, and quickly! It is imperative that you watch your children closely while playing anywhere near or around water. Even if you are not at the beach, or swim time is over, if their is water near you, you must be aware of where your little one is at all times! Whether you are at a camp on the lake, or home with a small pool in the backyard, the danger is still very present and real! Just being informed and aware of the dangers could decrease your chance of a tragic accident. So have fun, enjoy the water, and tray safe!

Quick Question!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2017 Meagan Ireland

Let us know what you think, and share your story!

Meagan Ireland (author) from Maine on July 26, 2017:

That is so scary! Thank god you were okay!

That is exactly my point, an accident can happen in an instant, and before you have any idea what is going on a tragedy has happened! It is all too real and I hope that my article can raise awareness among a few parents! When you are having fun, and already have a million things on your mind, some of these things are easily (and understandably) overlooked!

Thanks for the read! I appreciate it

Ryan from Louisiana, USA on July 26, 2017:

Some great points and advice you have shared with this article. I agree, we must always be careful around water because anything can happen in a split second. I for one, had an accident when I was around three. My dad told me sister to watch me when I was in a raft in the pool. I fell over and sank to the bottom. Luckily my sister rescued me before I drowned.