By Chris McCuiston, CEO & Co-Founder, Goldfish Swim School
As the cool weather arrives this fall and winter season, water safety may not be the first thing that comes to mind for many parents. The reality is, freezing temperatures pose a great deal of safety risks for young children. These five tips from Goldfish Swim School will help families keep their kids safer during these cold weather months.
1. Stay off of Unfamiliar Ice – Unless a lake or pond has been designated for skating and is certified for thickness and safety, stay off of the ice. Never walk on rivers or retention ponds, and remember that ice thickness can change on different parts of the water, and can be affected by conditions over night.
2. Have an Emergency Plan – Plan and practice what to do if someone falls through ice. Teach children not to panic if they fall through the ice; slow, calm movement helps retain body heat, which is critical as the body loses heat more than 30 times faster in cold water than cold air. Call paramedics right away even if the child appears OK. Learn infant and child CPR. Keep rescue equipment, a phone and emergency numbers nearby.
3. Ensure Adult Supervision is Present – Children shouldn’t play outside alone. A drowning child usually cannot cry or shout for help, so never turn your back on your child around water, including ice. Assign a designated watcher so there are never questions about which adult is responsible for watching the child. Also, establish a buddy system with one or more friends and have them look out for one another.
4. Make Swim Lessons a Priority – As young as four months old (or when they establish head and neck control), enroll children in swim lessons. Teach children water acclimation and aquatic survival skills designed to help them survive should they reach the water alone.
5. Have Conversations with Caretakers and Kids – If your child goes to a friend’s house to play, ask the adult what kinds of activities they will engage in, and specifically, if they will be around water/ice, and make sure the children are supervised. When traveling to relatives’ and friends’ homes, they may not understand the importance of keeping gates closed, doors locked, etc. Start a conversation with your kids about water safety and share tips with them about what to do if they fall into water.
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