Water and kids go hand-in-hand during the summer months, but daily doses of splishing and splashing need to be taken seriously despite the fun factor.
With that in mind, it’s important that you educate your entire family on summer safety while taking some of your own precautionary measures to ensure the season is free from hazards. The Imagine Project shares some key tasks that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Encourage Swimming Lessons
Whether you’re sending your kids off to camp, you’re headed to the beach, or you have a pool in your own backyard, it’s important that they feel confident in the water and learn how to swim in an effort to keep themselves safe. Experts suggest that the sooner you begin lessons, the better, as older kids have a harder time shaking early childhood fears — especially when it comes to breathing and buoyancy. While being supervised, start by letting your child dangle his/her feet in the pool before graduating to standing in a shallow area. Getting used to going underwater can take some time, so exercise patience. If you’re not in a position to teach your child the basics (or you simply don’t have enough time to commit to regular instruction), look to your local community for a place that offers lessons. Just make sure the instructor is certified by the Red Cross (or another reputable program) and is trained in CPR. Consider watching a session before making a commitment.
While some experts discourage the use of tools such as water wings while a child is learning to swim, they can be helpful for extremely small children and/or those who are truly terrified of the water. Life jackets are a must when going near deep bodies of water, whether on a boat or simply standing on the dock. No matter which floatation devices you decide to use, make sure they are age-, size-, and weight-appropriate so that they function correctly.
Exercise Chemical Smarts
While you want to keep your pool sanitary, there are now several companies that offer chlorine-free alternatives that are supposedly safer — to the point where people and pets can swallow water without any harm. However, if you want to stick with the old-fashioned protocol, make sure you exercise caution when using cyanuric acid to stabilize chlorine. If the levels are too high, the chlorine will lose efficiency. Consider getting a chemical feeder to periodically dispense measured amounts of chlorine into your pool so you don’t have to do it manually for at least a week. Maintaining a proper PH level is equally important, so keep a drop-type test kit on-hand. And, of course, when you’re not using any chemicals, make sure they’re safely locked up and out of harm’s way.
When it comes to pool safety, consider installing a high fence, cover, and an alarm as precautionary measures, and restrict access by removing stairs and ladders when not in use. Institute safety rules for both children and guests. For example, no running near the pool to prevent slipping, encourage diving with a “feet first” only policy to prevent head injuries (or a fatality), and no kids in the pool without adult supervision — ideally, each parent or guardian should be trained in CPR in case of an emergency.
A fence can keep kids and pets in the neighborhood from wandering into your pool area. The materials you use to build your fence will significantly affect its cost. For example, a chain-link fence will run you $13 per square foot on average, while a vinyl fence will typically cost $30 per square foot. When researching “inexpensive fence companies near me”, carefully consider customer reviews and ratings and look to see if any installers are currently offering discounts and credits.
With all the extra time spent outdoors, don’t forget to protect your kids from the sun and mosquitoes. Try to avoid being outside during 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun is at its peak, and reapply an SPF of 30 or higher every couple of hours — more frequently if there’s a lot of water time and/or sweating. Use a sunscreen that is safe and healthy for the skin, body, and environment (your skin is the largest organ of the body and absorbs chemicals easily). Beautycounter has a wonderful chemical free sunscreen for all ages. You can apply an approved insect repellent with DEET but this is a toxic chemical. If you’d like to try something more natural use 2 oz of liquid coconut oil mixed with 15 drops of Lemongrass and 15 drops of Lavender Essential Oils, just spray on the skin or rub it in before going outside. You may need to reapply after a couple of hours.
If it’s cloudy outside and you can’t play in the water, an alternative to outdoor fun would be The Imagine Project journaling process. Kids love it and it gives them a chance to speak from there heart and Imagine new possibilities about a sunny day tomorrow or what might be happening when they go back to school in the fall.
Good luck and have a great summer!
Thank you to Amanda Henderson for your contributions in writing this article.
Photo Credit: Pixabay.
Dianne is the founder and CEO of The Imagine Project, Inc., a nonprofit organization that helps children K-12 (and adults) process and heal from difficult life circumstances through expressive writing. Dianne has her Masters in Psychiatric/Mental Health Nursing, has written multiple books, is an international speaker, lives outside of Denver, CO, and has 3 grown children. Learn more about The Imagine Project at www.theimagineproject.org.