Prepare Your Kids to Stay Afloat

“When that summer sun starts beatin’ down
And you don’t know what to do
Grab your swimming trunks
Ice up that old igloo
Drive until the map turns blue”

-Brad Paisley

As an avid fan of live music, I always strive to learn the words to new songs before I see my favorite artists perform. Brad Paisley stops by Chicago in August and I will be especially proud to sing every line of his new single, “Water.”

While listening to my favorite country artist croon about fun times near the water, I think about the great memories I have of spending hours at the local pool with childhood friends. Even though I have grown out of my floaties, I still enjoy swimming now. Just like Brad’s song, “Water,” when the “summer sun starts beatin’ down” I have been “driv[ing] until the map turns blue” to get to the pool or beach during warm summer days. At the beach this summer I have seen a lot of close calls where lifeguards stepped in at just the right moment to prevent accidents, so I reached out to a good friend to learn about how to stay safe in and around water.

Barbara Nichols became Red Cross Certified in lifeguarding in 2005 because, as a child, she admired her cousins for working hard to protect patrons at the aquatic center in her hometown. She is currently head lifeguard at her local pool, a position that she has held for 5 years. In her years of service, she has seen firsthand that children who are introduced to swimming by their parents are more open to taking swimming lessons and are less afraid of the water.

Barbara says that the most important thing parents can do is be proactive about their children’s safety. She recommends that parents “take safety precautions and follow facility rules” to set a good example for their kids.

Barbara stresses that “it’s important to just enter the water safely and stay in areas where you are comfortable swimming.”

Make your own memories this summer by enjoying warm weather swimming and aquatic activities with just a few helpful hints in mind from an experienced lifeguard.

Barbara and the Red Cross offer a few extra tips to make the most out of your time in the water:

• Use and reapply sunscreen liberally.
• Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water.
• Cover all cuts and scrapes properly before entering the water.
• Avoid alcohol consumption as it impairs judgment, balance and coordination, and affects swimming and diving skills.
• If you go boating, wear a life jacket! Most boating fatalities occur from drowning.
• Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone. Even at a public pool or a lifeguarded beach, use the buddy system!
• Never leave a young child unattended near water and do not trust a child’s life to another child; teach children to always ask permission to go near water.

The best way to prevent disaster in the water is to learn how to swim. Enroll in age-appropriate Red Cross Learn-to-Swim courses. Young children or inexperienced swimmers should wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket around water. Lifejackets are one type of Personal Floatation Devices (PFD) and can vary depending on weight and size. Further instructions about the proper use of PFD’s can be found here.

If you are interested in learning more about water safety and lifesaving like Barbara, Lifeguarding courses and Red Cross Certification programs are offered at local aquatic facilities.
To find courses contact your local Red Cross Chapter.

Be Red Cross Ready.

Written by Blair Janis

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