Make Sure Water Fun at Lakes and Hotel Pools Is Safe Fun
By Patricia Bates, Family Life Educator
Summer time is a great time for vacations and camping! Most children enjoy the water and playing in pools and lakes. Thinking about water safety is always crucial but is especially critical when you are in an unfamiliar situation where children may not be aware of the rules or regulations.
Any time you will be spending time around water it is good to review the rules with young children.
Imagine these scenarios:
- The Johnson family is having a reunion at a hotel with a swimming pool. The cousins are having a great time in the pool while the adults are visiting nearby. The adults assume that everybody is watching the kids, but is anybody really watching?
- Harper and her family are camping by the lake and staying in a cabin. The adults are grilling and getting supper ready. Harper is 4 and wants to go swimming. No one sees her head toward the water.
Supervision is the key to water safety. Young children are attracted to water but don’t understand the danger. Since there is usually no lifeguard on duty at hotel pools or lakes, it’s important for adults to take on this responsibility and take it seriously.
Assigning a “water watcher” for a specific period of time is the best idea. If you assume that “everyone” is watching usually no one really is, and that’s when tragedies occur. The water watcher remains outside of the pool or lake, and their sole duty is to watch the swimmers.
This person needs to know the number of swimmers in the water. This person should not leave the water area for any reason without getting a substitute.
Other tips to keep in mind at a hotel pool include:
- When you arrive at the pool check for debris or garbage in and around the pool
- Read posted rules and regulations
- Be aware of pool depths before diving or jumping in
- Spas and hot tubs are not recommended for children
- Consider having children wear water shoes for added traction and also to protect from unavoidable germs in public facilities
- Don’t use glass containers around the pool
Only U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices will protect your child. Inflatable toys and arm bands will not protect them. Check the label for weight restrictions and activity usage, or find an expert at a sporting goods store to advise you.
When visiting or camping at the lake children must be supervised anytime they are in or near the water — on docks, on the shore, wading or swimming. Be sure to lock cabin doors to prevent children from leaving the cabin or camper unsupervised.
Other tips to keep in mind at the lake:
- Children should never be on docks or in boats, even if anchored, without an adult supervising.
- Check out the lake depth and check for underwater hazards like drop offs and weeds that could cause foot entanglement.
- Educate your children about special safety precautions when swimming at the lake.
The most important thing to remember with children and large bodies of water is to always be aware and watching. It is important to know where children are at all times. Some of the best memories can be made at the lake or a fun family reunion, but it is important to always keep in mind these key safety tips.