We all love water on some level. There’s something serene about it whether it be watching the waves from afar or taking a swim in a pool. After all, we were created in water, and it seems there’s nothing more relaxing outside of prayer than to enjoy a body of water somewhere. At least for me and my family it is!
When summer rolls around, the first thing we discuss is our water adventures. Swimming at the pool or the beach and visiting water parks are always high on our lists. We envision the fun and don’t immediate consider potential dangers.
But safety needs to be high on our lists of things to do and what not to do.
In this article, we’ll discuss:
- Bath time safety (levels, temperature, devices, and monitoring)
- Pool safety (levels, temp, depth, safety gear, and monitoring)
- Ocean safety (temp, depth, safety gear, monitoring, Rip Currents & undertow)
Water level: Bathtub water levels should be below the waist line for an infant or toddler who is able to sit up on his/her own without assistance. 2-3 inches of water is sufficient for bathing. Little ones of any age will always pose the risk of slip and fall so using a mat bath is a great help to prevent any slips, whether sitting or standing.
Temperature: Seldomly do we consider dangers of bath time but there are many, especially for smaller children and infants. One of the most important things we can do to make sure our little ones are safe, is first to check the water temperature. In-home water heaters should be set to a temperature of no more than 120F (48C). Water temperatures should remain around 95F or 37C.
Temps any higher than this can cause sever burns in a matter of seconds. At times it can be easy to confuse hot for cold, or turn the temp dial too far – keeping the water heater at a safe temperature will help decrease the probability of water scalding and burns.
Ideally, using a bathtub thermometer can help you determine the appropriate temperature. If one is not available, you can dip your elbow into the water – if your skin is comfortable, your child should be fine as well. Looks for signs of water temperature that is too hot to cold, such as a startled response or crying.
Infant seats: Infant seating for bath time has become very popular in recent times. Most help to keep baby sitting upright which is an exciting milestone for us as parents. But we never think of what could happen of the seating doesn’t stay in place.
That’s what happened to me and my 10-month-old son one day during bath time. I opened a new bottle of baby shampoo, and as I turned around to throw away the plastic safety seal, I turned back around just in time to watch his tub seat flip over and immerse his face under water, of course with no way for him to help himself. That day I threw the seat away.
Most are now made with more safety precautions, but my heart as mother vowed not to use one again. My suggestion would be to be selective on the type of seating. Ours had suctions cups, some stronger, some weaker than others. Look for potential safety issues and consider the type of bathtub you have at home when deciding which one is or isn’t best for your family.
And never, ever turn your back or leave the room, not even for a second! Drowning can happen that fast!
Which brings us to the next safety precaution:
Did you know a person can drown in just 12 inches of water?
Small pools or large ones, above ground or under, all pose the same dangerous risks and more. Children should steer clear of depths above the waistline. For deeper water levels, please use flotation devices, such as life jackets, water wings, or other safety devices, be sure the child is properly secured, and their heads are able to stay above water at all times. Again, never take your eyes off children of any age near open bodies of water.
When my youngest was only 2 years old, he and my daughter were sitting by the edge of the pool while I helped with some yard work. I saw my little one follow my daughter inside the house, and I continued on my way. What I didn’t know was that the daughter told my 2-year-old to wait for her outside, so I did not see him return to the pool area. He walked to the edge and took a seat on the deck. Then he dropped his toy into the water. He reached over the grab it and fell in! By time anyone noticed he was completely submerged and unresponsive. I almost lost my son that day, but I thank God that his life was spared and there was no brain damage.
Once water gets into the lungs – even just a small amount – Dry Drowning or Post-Immersion Syndrome, could occur. Regardless of which term you choose to use, the DANGER is still very real. Dry Drowning occurs when a person of any age inhales some water into the lungs, which can cause the voice box to spasm, closing the vocal cords and making breathing difficult, even several hours after the incident. This is especially dangerous in younger children who more easily ingest water and are unable to communicate as effectively when experiencing symptoms.
OCEAN or SEA
All the dangers listed above are also possibilities when swimming in the ocean. The only difference is the dangers increase significantly. Everyone is excited to swim, especially early in the season. We talked about hot temperatures, but what about cold waters? Many times, in the Spring the temperatures mifht be great for outdoor activities, but natural bodies of water tend to be remain cold for several months due to cold winter temperatures. Even in Florida the ocean runs colder in winter and spring. Fresh bodies of water such as Natural Springs run even colder because waters pass through cold caves, etc.
The younger the child, the less their little bodies are able to maintain and adjust their body temperature. Again, check for temperatures that can be too cold for your little one. Using weather resources online is a great way to determine if water temps will be safe for your family on any given day.
In addition, to this is the fluctuating water levels of the ocean, Water levels in the sea are inconsistent in any given area. What may appear as shallow water can quickly DROP by several feet! These drops can also contain rip currents that are extremely difficult to see.
RIP Currents and Undertows
Rip currents and undertows are powerful under water currents that pull and tug under the ocean’s surface and out toward the sea. Some of the strongest swimmers have lost their lives to rip currents because of the strength of the current, and the inability of the swimmer to make it above the surface of the water in time for air. It can cause the swimmer to grow weary, tired, lose strength, and eventually pass out under water and drown. Sometimes the body isn’t found for weeks, if ever. It’s a very dangerous and sad situation.
If you or a loved one finds themselves getting caught in a rip current or undertow, the safest route is to swim to the left or to the right. Doing so can help the swimmer escape the undertow and swim to safety. It is estimated that over 30,000 swimmers must be rescued from rip currents each year, and even one death is too many.
Spotting RIP Currents
There is a way you may be able to spot rip currents, although at times they are invisible to our eyes. Most are from above but if you stand back away from the shore, watch how the waves roll and tumble. If there is an area where waves are NOT breaking, there is an undertow there. Keep children and yourself away from these areas! Rip currents start close to the shoreline then move outward towards the sea. Again, you can break free by swimming horizontally, try to keep your head above the water and yell for help.
Rip currents are also darker because the water is much deeper where the current runs. If you spot a darker area in the ocean or sea, there a great chance you’ve spotted a rip current. Stay away from darker areas. Some swimmers love sandbars but rip currents can take place in between sandbars as well.
Rippled surfaces, as well as flowing discolored sandy water can also be signs of rip currents and undertows. Foamy waters or a floating item sitting in the same spot on water are also signs of rip currents and undertows beneath the surface of the water. Again, however, many times rip currents cannot be spotted so please take precaution and keep your loved from swimming too far out where water is well above their waist lines. Again, even the best swimmers are at risk.
* Please know none of this is said to instill fear, but rather to encourage safety practices. As adults, parents, and caretakers, most times we’re able to think clearly and act quickly in the event of an emergency, but sometimes fear takes over rationale. We must discuss safety precautions with one another, and most importantly have these discussions with the children God has placed in our care. We can never be too careful There’s always something we can do to try to protect one another, especially our little ones. ♥
God bless you!
Dear Lord, we come to You today and ask that You protect us and our loved ones. Bless us with the gift of discernment and righteous wisdom, that we would strongly feel the promptings of Your Holy Spirit to steer clear from where we should not be, Father God. I plead the Psalm 91 hedge of protection upon ourselves and our loved ones, that we are covered under the shadow of Your mighty wings. Send Your loving, kind, heavenly angels to encamp round about us in a hedge of protection, Father God, that we may be safe wherever we go. We thank You for never leaving us or forsaking us Lord. We thank You that we are safe in Your Hands now and forevermore. In Jesus’ mighty and precious name we pray, Amen.
Ephesians 5:15 “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time…”
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