Swimming and Beach Safety for Kids

Disclosure :: this post is sponsored by Touro Infirmary.

Swimming and Beach Safety for Kids

Swimming pools and beaches are common sources of fun for children during the summer. But safety must come first. Every year, thousands of Americans are injured or killed in boating and swimming accidents. Water is also the number one cause of accidental deaths in children from 1 to 4 years old. It is important to know water-safety guidelines to protect you and your family.

Practicing Pool Safety

Swimming is the most popular summer activity, and the deadliest accidents happen in backyard pools. Young children can drown in just a few inches of water. However, children are less likely to drown if they have taken swimming lessons. You can start introducing your baby to water when they are about 6 months old. If you are not a swimmer, you should take swimming lessons as well. A parent should always supervise their children in water even if a lifeguard is present. It’s important to never leave children unattended around water.

Simple life-saving safety tips:

  • Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone. Make sure to check buckles and straps for proper function, and practice swimming in it.
  • Always have a phone close by at all times in case you need to call 9-1-1.
  • Encourage your kids to swim with a buddy.
  • Install and use barriers around your home pool or hot tub. Barriers should be at least 4 feet tall.
  • Install self-latching gates that open outward.
  • Keep toys that are not in use away from the pool and out of sight. Toys can attract young children to the pool.

Practicing Beach Safety

There are also safety hazards at the beach. Swimming in the ocean is much different because there are currents that can pull even the strongest swimmer under. It’s important to teach kids the meaning of colored beach flags and to obey them. Coastal communities across the globe have adopted a flag-warning system developed by the United States Lifesaving Association. However, the meaning of the colors and symbols may vary at each beach. Therefore, you should always watch for dangerous waves and signs of rip tides.

The Red Cross recommends directing kids to a designated, supervised area to swim, and teaching them to stay within sight of a lifeguard and a supervising adult. You should also check the water’s depth before you let your kids swim, and make sure hidden rocks or other hazards aren’t present. 

What is dry and secondary drowning?

Many people think the risk of drowning ends when the child is out of water, but danger can still linger. Although rare, dry and secondary drowning can occur after inhaling water through the nose or mouth. In cases of dry drowning, the water triggers a spasm in the airway, causing it to close and impact breathing. Unlike dry drowning, delayed or secondary drowning occurs when swimmers have taken water into their lungs. The water builds up over time, eventually causing breathing difficulties.

Secondary drowning warning signs:

  • Coughing
  • Chest pain
  • Trouble breathing
  • Feeling extremely tired

Your child may also have changes in behavior such as irritability or a decrease in energy levels, which could mean the brain isn’t getting enough oxygen. To help prevent dry drowning, you should practice pool and beach safety.

How do you respond to a water emergency?

Every second counts in an emergency. A distressed swimmer or drowning victim needs help immediately. Here are the steps:

  1. If someone is missing, check the water first.
  2. Reach or throw equipment to the swimmer but do not get in the water.
  3. Call 911.
  4. If needed, perform first aid or CPR.

To schedule an appointment or find a doctor, go to touro.com/findadoc.

About Dr. Andrew J. Siegel

Dr. Andrew J Siegel is an Internal Medicine Specialist at Crescent City Physicians, Inc. and Touro Infirmary. Andrew was born and raised in California and spent his undergrad years at the University of California. He graduated with honors from Tulane University School Of Medicine in 2016. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his wife and two children, being outdoors, cooking, or eating at one of the city’s many tasty restaurants.




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