Swimming Safety for Children
Now that summer is here and school is out, it is time to head outdoors! For people with kids, regular swimming excursions are a normal part of warm-weather enjoyment for the whole family.
Yet there are some things to stay aware of as we take our children outside to play in the water during these warmer months – chlorine, bacteria, germs and the sun all pose threats to kids’ health while swimming. I have provided some healthy tips so your children can stay healthy while playing and swimming through the summer!
What To Look For
- Ways to prevent eye irritation, water-borne infections, swimmer’s ear and other common summer ailments when swimming, including:
– proper pre-swimming hygiene (bathing, washed hands, clean skin, no diarrhea, etc.)
– sunscreen, SPF 30 or above
– floatation devices to assist in swim training
– water-safe earplugs
– clean washcloths
– clean, well-cared for swimming areas
– healthy eye and ear drops in case of irritation or infection
- Signs of irritation or infection, including:
– red, bumpy rashes, especially in creases of the skin
– bloodshot eyes
– complaints of muffled sounds, ringing or throbbing
- Make sure your children are clean before entering a pool or swimming area: have them take a rinse/shower and wash their hands. Make sure their rear end and back area are especially cleaned.
- Lather protective sunscreen (no less than SPF30) on your child’s body every hour or so. Colored sunscreen is helpful to show you if you are missing any areas. Do not forget the scalp/hair part line as well.
- Provide goggles for your children to prevent eye irritation and puffiness from chlorine or bacteria in the water.
- Provide life-vests and/or floatation devices for your younger children and watch them at all times.
- Check to see if there will be lifeguards on duty at your destination swimming area.
- Have your children swim in pairs or teams together.
- Make sure your child does not play or swim in polluted water areas such as boat-launch sites, still water ponds and stagnant places around lakes.
- Provide swimming earplugs for your children if they will be swimming or diving in untreated water such as lakes, rivers and the ocean. This is very helpful to reduce occurrence of swimmer’s ear (infections).
- Other ways to reduce swimmer’s ear infections:
– Use a towel or hair dryer to wipe out the water from your child’s ears after swimming.
– Use oil or lanolin ear drops in your child’s ears while swimming.
– Do not clean your child’s ears with cotton swaps or your fingers as both of these methods can scratch or irritate the ear canal, opening the door to infection.
- Make sure your children take regular bathroom breaks and check with them often.
- Do not allow your child to sit in hot tubs until they are tall enough to stand in the middle of one; and they should not remain in there very long as the heat can cause exhaustion and illness. They should never submerge their heads in the hot tub which can contribute to ear infections as well.
- It is usually best to keep infants and toddlers wearing diapers to spend little time in swimming areas as bowl movements in the diaper can seep into the water with contaminating germs and parasites (contributing to diarrhea-related illness for other swimmers).
- DO NOT allow young children in the pool if they have diarrhea.
- Change your baby’s diaper in the bathroom or changing room and not poolside as germs can quickly make contact with others entering the water.