Summer vacation in our family means trips to the beach and lots of lazy days by the pool. We travel often to beach and lake destinations and also live along the California coast. Pools and beach outings are part of the regular routine even when we aren’t on the road. I’m lucky that my 7 year old and a 2 year old both love the water, but I also know that the ocean and the pool can present some serious risks.
When we’re traveling, I find that the risk can be even greater. Whether it’s just unfamiliarity with unseen dangers in new locations or just being in “vacation mode,” far too many parents get complacent while traveling. And, of course, the risk is quite serious at home for families who have residential pools or bodies of water nearby.
As careful as I am, I’ve even experienced a momentary scare or two. I know it can happen to anyone. I remember well being at Disney’s Aulani in Hawaii a few years ago. I was traveling with my husband and daughter who was just a few weeks shy of her 4th birthday at the time. She wasn’t yet fully swimming on her own, but she was proud of what she was doing so far and bold when it came to the water. We were walking past the pool on our way out to the beach that day. I assumed my husband had her by the hand, and he assumed the same about me. I suddenly realized she wasn’t with us and glanced furiously around the crowded pool trying to find her. There she was, about 30 paces back, standing by the pool’s edge ready to jump in to show off her “swimming” skills. She didn’t even make it into the water before I grabbed her, but it scared me to death to think what could have happened in just a few seconds. That moment has stuck with me years later as I always try to be vigilant around the water with both of my kids.
I am honored to be able to partner with the ZAC Foundation right as the summer travel season kicks off to bring a few crucial water safety tips your way. The ZAC Foundation provides a wealth of water safety tips and resources and programming for parents and children of all ages. The Foundation targets children ages 5-9 with most of their safety programming. (Keep reading to the end to enter to win a summer fun prize kit from the ZAC Foundation too!)
Before you plan to take your little ones to enjoy the water this summer, here are a few tips to keep kids safe while swimming – at home and on vacation.
The ABC&D’s of water safety from the ZAC Foundation
- ADULT: Never let children be alone near or in a pool, ocean, lake, or river. Children should be taught to never swim without an adult present.
- BARRIER: Have a four-sided fence that goes around your pool with a self-locking gate.
- CLASSES: Kids and adults should take safety classes like swim lessons and CPR.
- DRAINS: ALL swimmers should stay away from all pool and spa drains to avoid becoming trapped by the suction.
Additional Summer Water Safety Tips for Traveling Families
- Assess new vacation destinations for risks: When traveling, check out all pools and bodies of water to identify potential dangers before swimming. Is that pool at your vacation condo complex gated? Is there a strong current or riptide at the beach where you are vacationing? Recognizing the new challenges when first arriving on a trip will help you be safer your entire vacation.
- Designate a parent: Never assume that one adult is watching the kids swimming. When more than one adult is present who might be keeping an eye on swimming kids, talk to each other and define clearly who is watching which child. Clearly pass off responsibility so there’s no room for error.
- Pack a life jacket for vacations: My family regularly brings a small life jacket with us on vacations for our little one who is not yet swimming (in my experience, the Puddle Jumper packs well. It is only $20 and is good for giving a little swimming freedom to toddlers and preschoolers 30-50lbs). Better yet, look for hotels and resorts that offer life jackets to borrow for free. Disney hotels always have them available in a variety of sizes, in my experience.
- Don’t assume lifeguards are the solution: There are a number of family-friendly resorts that have lifeguards on duty, but don’t rely on them to watch your kids at the pool on vacation. These guards are in charge of busy pools, and you never know how well-trained they are in spotting a child in trouble or executing a rescue.
Wishing everyone some very fun and very safe beach, lake, and pool vacations this summer. Share your water safety stories and tips in the comments!
Giveaway from the ZAC Foundation
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.