Summer is a great time for kids to enjoy swimming, but it’s important to review safety rules regularly before anyone gets in the water. Whenever children are swimming, an adult should be watching who is able to intervene if necessary. For kids who are four years and older, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends swimming lessons as an additional safety step.
Lifeguards use flag ratings to deliver important information about the area to beachgoers. Adults and older kids should understand what these flags mean and ask the lifeguard on duty if they see a flag they don’t understand.
Some common flags and their meanings are listed below:
- Yellow flag: Yellow flags represent a medium hazard where modest currents or surf may be present. Young children and weak swimmers should stay out of the water.
- Red flag: Red flags represent a severe hazard. Swimmers should avoid entering the water because currents could be very strong.
- Red over red flag: The water is closed to the public.
- Purple flag: Jellyfish, stingrays and other hazards could injure swimmers. If a shark is spotted, a red flag or a red over red flag appears.
Everyone swimming should also know what to do in case of a riptide. If a swimmer is caught in a riptide, he should swim parallel to the shore, rather than fighting the current. Once he’s free, he should swim toward land. If the swimmer can’t swim parallel to the shore, he should float or tread water until the riptide passes. Of course, if the swimmer isn’t sure he can make it to shore, he should yell loudly and wave his arms for help.
Swimming Pool Safety
While swimming pools don’t have the riptides, waves and currents of the ocean, they can still be dangerous if safety precautions aren’t followed. Responsible adults should be watching kids in the water at all times. Every adult should also know the signs of drowning, which can be difficult to spot. Weak swimmers should wear life vests, and kids should never run around the pool. Children should be told that diving is only allowed after an adult checks the pool depth to make sure it’s deep enough.
What to Know About Dry Drowning
Dry drowning occurs when a child swallows a small amount of water, which causes her airway to spasm. Symptoms of dry drowning include difficulty breathing, vomiting, coughing or sleepiness. If a child is rescued from a near drowning, it’s important to call a pediatrician for advice even if the child appears OK. Parents who want an expert opinion on age-appropriate water safety for their kids can call one of our qualified pediatricians at 24/7 Pediatric Care Centers.