It’s still summer in Oregon — no need to start “singing in the rain” for a few months. In fact, August and September can bring on the heat. What better way to cool down than to take a dip in some Northwest water!
Here in Lane County, you can easily go to the ocean or mountain lakes. You can dip your feet when you walk on the river path. You can dunk yourself in Amazon Pool or a backyard pool. No matter what water your child is in though, there are important cautions to take to make fun water times, safe times.
Water accidents can happen quickly. Kids need to ALWAYS be supervised in the water even if:
- the water is only a few inches deep,
- they are wading,
- they know how to swim, or
- they are in the bathtub with some toys.
Make sure to dump out kiddie pools in the back yard when you’re finished to keep young children and pets from drowning – even when they are just a few inches deep.
“Touch” supervision is needed for infants, toddlers and those without good swimming skills. You should be within touching distance of your child – can you reach out with your arm and grab them if needed?
- Sunburn can cause permanent and long-term skin damage for ALL KIDS.
- Keep your child, especially infants, out of the sun as much as possible.
- When in the sun make sure your child has protective clothing, like hats and light-weight clothes that cover skin.
- When exposed to the sun, use sunblock and reapply as directed. Make sure that you check which brands of sunblock are safe and least toxic to children or for fragrances or ingredients your child may have allergies to.
- Don’t skimp on funds when it comes to flotation devices — get ones that are US Coast Guard approved. Check to make sure the device is right for your child’s size and weight, regardless of their age. https://healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-play/Pages/Life-Jackets-and-Life-Preservers.aspx
- Inflatable devices like water wings are TOYS, not flotation devices — they do not prevent drowning.
- If you are going in a lake, stream or creek it’s best to have some foot protection. Sharp rocks, animals .and garbage (even glass) can be lurking below. Get some cool colored water shoes for all.
- If your child is not potty trained, make sure to use swim diapers and change them often (at a good distance from the water for everyone’s safety).
- If your child is still newly trained, make sure to check in frequently to see if they need a bathroom break – the water can be too much fun for them to be thinking about bathroom time.
Baby it’s cold — in the water
- Water temperatures vary a lot. Some Northwest places, like the ocean or mountain lakes, can be quite cold for recreational swims, especially for infants or toddlers (or if you are pregnant).
- If your child starts getting blue lips and fingertips, is shivering or having muscle cramps, get them out of the water, dried and wrapped up to warm them quickly.
And on the other hand, it’s too hot
- Whether you are at a public or private hot tub, remember that the government agency the Center for Disease Control says hot tubs are not safe for children under five.
- Often, hot tubs may be too hot for all kids. If you do allow your older child in a hot tub, watch that they don’t become overheated quickly and that they drink plenty of water.
- Remember that all the precautions for other pools still apply for hot tubs.
Check out these sun and safety tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics!
Summer Fun is Thirsty Work
- Make sure your child is hydrated. Always have lots of bottles of clean water available. You don’t need fancy water bottles – try taking a plain container and decorate it for a summer art project. It could help encourage your child to drink and avoid heat-related emergencies.
- Soda and other sweet drinks not only don’t hydrate, but also can make your child need more hydration.
- Want something special to drink? Try putting fruit in your water – lemons, strawberries, fresh pineapple. The water will taste and look yummier for your child. Have them help you prepare it by picking out the fruit or adding it to their container of water.
- Try to keep your child from swallowing water when they are in a lake or stream.
- If you are backpacking with your child, make sure you have enough potable water and/or proper filtration equipment.
Just because you were in the water all day…
Being in a lake, river or creek doesn’t mean you’ve “bathed” (despite what your child might think). In fact, it’s important to shower well after swimming to avoid possible rashes or irritations from bacteria in the “natural” water or chemicals from pools.
Don’t Forget the Fun!
Once you take care of safety measures, there are tons of ways to play in the water.
- Does your kid love tea parties? Use water toys for teacups and pour water for an in the water tea party.
- Colanders and sieves are great toys for toddlers in backyard kiddie pools.
- Water noodles can be great for Star War re-enactments.
- Drop some big ice cubes in the water and have children collect them before they melt.
- And what would summer in the water be without the classic Marco Polo. One person is “it” and closes their eyes and says “Marco.” Everyone else says “Polo.” The person who is “it” tries to find the other kids by listening for where their voices are coming from.
So, cool off and have fun, but remember whether you are at home or away, when you are in the water, be right there with your kids, protect them with safe gear and sun protection, make sure they don’t get too cold (or hot), and bring them lots of water to drink. And after being in the water all day, rinse it all off and hit the showers! You’ll have happy, clean and most-likely calm kids at the end of the summer day.
This article is brought to you by Parenting Now! Parenting Educators and authors, Tova Stabin, Claire Davis and Lynne Swartz and consultant Jay Thompson (andupdatemywebsite.com). Parenting Now! is passionate about happy, healthy families. For more information about Parenting Now! contact us here.
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