Summertime and water fun is one of the most exciting things for children. As they enjoy their time out in the heat, they can also jump into the cool water for a refreshing swim. While water fun and the summer heat may be a perfect combination, there are a few water safety concerns that must be addressed when children play in the water.
Prior to heading out into the water, taking a first aid course to better prepare ourselves is always a good idea. First Aid Plus offers a variety of courses, including a Marine Basic First Aid course, focusing on first aid in marine environments. For a full list of first aid courses available, please visit: https://www.firstaidplus.ca/courses-all/.
One of the most common places we may take our children to play with water is water parks. Most water parks offer a variety of water rides and slides that children can enjoy, ranging from extremely high slides going at fast speeds to small and relaxing slides that carry children on individual rafts.
The first thing that we must do is begin by reading all the rules and safety procedures posted by the park. Usually, these rules are listed out next to the rides near the lineup entrance. We want to make sure that our children understand all the rules before playing in the park.
Different slides and rides will also have different rules for how children should sit or lie down in order to safely slide down. If you are unsure of these rules, you may ask a nearby lifeguard for assistance. Lifeguards should be nearby at all times, especially at the beginning of and end of water slides.
Different water rides also require children to be of different body weights and heights. Ensure that your children meet the required weight and height requirements prior to going on any rides.
A lifejacket or personal floatation device (PDF) may not be necessary for all water rides, but is still strongly recommended especially if the child does not know how to swim. If you are unsure whether your child needs to wear a floatation device for a certain ride, you may ask a lifeguard to be sure.
Outside of water parks, if you are bringing children to other water environments such as the beach or to go boating, it is recommended that you purchase a floatation device for them. There are lifejackets and PDFs that are designed specifically for children. To purchase an effective floatation device for your children, you can look for several things including:
- Canadian approved labels noting the appropriate chest size or weight of the child
- A large collar to provide extra protection and support for the child’s head
- A grab strap on the collar
- Bright colours
- Typically yellow, orange or red are the most visible
- Strong and rust-proof buckles and zipper
- Waist ties with snug-fitting drawstrings or elastic in the front and back
- A safety strap that fastens between the legs to prevent the device from slipping over the child’s head
An appropriately sized lifejacket or PDF should be comfortable for the child, yet also snug. Do not buy a floatation device that is too large thinking that your child will grow into it. It should fit them at the time that they are going to wear it. You may also choose to attach reflective tape and a plastic whistle to the floatation device for additional protection.
It is important to note that there are no approved floatation devices for children weighing 20 pounds and under in Canada. It is recommended that you wait until your child weighs over 20 points before you go boating with them.
Although lifejackets and PDFs may be useful, they should never replace adult supervision. Whether at a water park or elsewhere, children playing in water should have adult supervision over them at all times.
To read more about water safety and drowning prevention, you can read our previous blog here:
Water safety can look quite different for children, but as children are inherently more vulnerable to dangerous situations, it is with greater importance that we take extra precautions to ensure their safety. By applying the necessary safety procedures into our summer days, we can make the most out of our time in refreshing cool waters with the whole family this summer season!