June 21st, 2024

Summer trips to the water require diligent attention from parents

By Gillian Slade on July 7, 2018.

Lifeguards talk water safety for children. Adult supervision is paramount for children in or near water, whether it is an in-ground home pool, an inflatable paddle pool, or at the lake. Left to right at Hill Pool: Lifeguard Sydney Simmons, acquatic co-ordinator Lisa Keeler and supervisor Tanis Milne.--NEWS PHOTO GILLIAN SLADE


gslade@medicinehatnews.com 
@MHNGillianSlade

Taking a swim in cool water may seem like the obvious solution for children during a heat wave, but adult supervision at all times is paramount for safety.

“Never take your eyes off your child once they are in or around the water,” said Renee Fenwick, superintendent of aquatic waters with the city.

While young children run the risk of drowning more easily, older children that can already swim should not be without supervision.

Difficulties in the water can happen quickly and quietly, said Fenwick. They should be within arm’s reach of an adult if they are a young age and within visual range if they are older, more experienced swimmers.

Even those who can swim may encounter difficulties after slipping at the pool, falling and become unconscious, said Lisa Keeler, aquatic co-ordinator with the city. It is easy to misjudge the depth of the water, dive in only to hit their head and/or suffer a spinal injury and need immediate help to get out of the water. In a lake environment, the swimmer can become tired and distressed.

Even backyard inflatable pools, with water 30 cm deep, can be a hazard if kids slip and fall. It can start as easily as wanting to pick up a toy that is on the bottom of the pool and falling over.

“They can be face down in the water and then they can’t stand up,” said Keeler.

Younger children find it more difficult to stand up again because their centre of balance is not well developed in the water, said Fenwick.

Even if children are playing at the water’s edge of a lake, there are potential dangers where an adult may need to intervene. Ankle-deep water may suddenly be considerably deeper due to an unexpected hollow or hole that was not visible in the murky water. That can result in a fall and/or no longer being able to stand in the water.

“Or they’re playing ball and the ball floats out and they want to get it,” said Keeler.

They keep going deeper and then suddenly can no longer stand in the water and become anxious and struggle to swim.

Fenwick issues a caution about inflatable swimming aids such as water wings. They can pop and deflate.

This time of year it is popular to arrange parties at someone’s home where there is a pool, or at the lake where the water is half the attraction. It is easy to forget who is watching the children in the water.

“Parent A thinks parent B is watching, and parent B thinks parent C is watching,” said Fenwick.

The ideal is to have specified shifts for someone to be watching the children in the water at all times and respond immediately if something goes wrong. By taking shifts it helps to focus diligently for a period of time and then join the others while someone else takes over.

While the water is cooling on the skin in a heat wave, severe sunburn can happen easily.

“You want to make sure that you put your sunblock on in advance, that it is water resistant and that it is reapplied, said Fenwick.

As a general rule it is also always good for parents to be trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR.

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