Summertime water safety advice

Posted in: Wellbeing Last updated: 28 Aug 2015

There's no denying that summer is (aside from Christmas and birthdays) the most fun time of the year! For the kids, there are six long weeks in which to fill with fun. Pair this with lovely warm weather, and you're soon onto a winner.

This new-found freedom and warmth can often lead families to indulge in some water-based fun! From a paddling pool in the garden to the local lido, or even the sea, playing in the water is a great way to cool off, but it's also vital that you make the activity as safe as possible for the family. Unfortunately, drowning is all too common in those aged under 15 during the summer months - and often, deaths can be easily prevented.

Here, you'll find some summertime water safety advice - but if you're in search of more information, be sure to take a look at the helpful links at the bottom of the article.

Do a safety sweep

No matter if your kids are one or 11, doing a quick safety sweep of a garden, swimming pool, lake side or beach can do no harm. Keep an eye out for potential hazards like slippery rocks, and point these out to your children before they jump on in. It's always a good idea to make a mental note of the lifeguard's location - if there is one - as well as any emergency equipment.

Look for the flags

If you're on the beach, swimming in the sea can be loads of fun! It's worth nothing that you should only swim in sections designated by red and yellow flags. This means that the RNLI has lifeguards patrolling this section of the beach and sea, and can offer first aid assistance as well as emergency rescue. Be aware that these flags can move throughout the day to account for changes in tide.

Be mindful of the conditions

When you're by any body of open water, it's vital to be mindful of the conditions around you and your family. For instance, inflatables can be great fun in calm, shallow waters, but if the wind were to pick up - or if there is an offshore breeze - you could be blown out into deeper, unsupervised sea very quickly.

"The golden rule of letting the kids run riot near water is to always keep an eye of them."

Riptides are also a danger when swimming in the sea. The RNLI advice is to not bother swimming against it, but let it carry you while you wave and shout for help. Stronger swimmers can try and swim parallel to the shore, so that when the current breaks, you can easily get to dry land.

Changing tides can occur really quite quickly, so be aware of the local tide times before promising some sea swimming. This is especially true for those that are looking to explore some rock pools with the little ones. Before you know it, you can be in deeper water than you're perhaps prepared for!

Know what's swimming along with you

In many lakes and, of course, the sea, you're never alone when swimming! This shouldn't be an off-putting factor to swimming in the natural environment, but it's vital to be aware of the creatures that could cause a problem. Jellyfish and weever fish are the most common causes of stings in UK waters, but there are a few more you should be aware of - take a look at the NHS safe swimming page for some more information.

Remember the sunscreen

UV light can bounce off of water, so no matter if you're swimming in a pool or natural water, or even if it's a little overcast, you can still easily burn while you're swimming. Layer the family up with a waterproof, high SPF sunscreen and remember to reapply regularly to avoid sunburn.

Keep an eye on the children at all times

The golden rule of letting the kids run riot near water is to always keep an eye of them. Accidents can happen in such a short space of time, so it's vital that you keep a look out for the family to make sure that the day stays fun.

“Child Holiday Swimming Pool Safety.” Retrieved from:  http://www.rospa.com/leisure-safety/water/advice/holiday-swimming-pool/
“Safe Swimming: What’s Lurking in the Water?” Retrieved from: http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/bites-and-stings/pages/safe-swimming.aspx
“Sun Safety: Information for Parents About Sunburn & Sunscreen.” Retrieved from:   https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-play/Pages/Sun-Safety.aspx
“Beach Safety.”  Retrieved from http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Healthyholidays/Pages/Beachsafety.aspx
“Summer Safety For Younger Children.” Retrieved from:  - http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Summerhealth/Pages/Childsafety.aspx

Note: Whilst we take care to ensure Hub content is accurate at the time of publication, individual circumstances can differ so please don’t rely on it when making financial decisions. OneFamily do not provide advice so it may be worth speaking to an independent financial advisor about your own circumstances.