The weather has heated up, which means beach trips and pool days are already happening. But these warm-weather activities also bring water safety to the forefront.

If you are traveling to your favorite vacation spot, venturing out for a day on the lake or just hanging out at your neighborhood pool, there are some tips you should follow to ensure you and your family have an enjoyable and not a tragic summer.

The water can be dangerous

According to Safe Kids Worldwide, 918 children under the age of 19 drowned in 2018, and more than 7,000 were seen in the emergency department. Accidental injury — including drowning — is the leading cause of death among preventable injuries for children ages 1-4 years old. That is why it is so important for adults to protect their children when it comes to water safety.

Drowning and near-drowning incidents often happen when no one expects anyone to be in the pool. When swim time is over, make sure gates are secure and doors are locked. That way nobody can access the pool and think they can swim when no one is watching.

Your role as an adult

There are several things you can do to help kids safely enjoy their time in the water. Here are a few recommendations to keep in mind:

♦Have a designated water watcher, even if you don’t think anyone will be in the pool. That watcher is charged with watching everyone who is swimming or near the water. Sometimes there is the false assumption that some is naturally watching all the kids.

♦When the water watcher needs to take some time off, make sure someone else is picked and make sure they know what their role is. Some groups have created a water watcher tag that is worn around the neck (like a whistle or lanyard) to remind yourself that you are on watch. Switching water watchers every 10 to 15 minutes is a smart way to always keep fresh eyes on the water.

♦Pay attention. Children can go under water with little noise. Don’t expect splashing, waving or screaming. For watchers, cellphones are distraction so put them down and watch the kids.

Educate your kids

It’s never too early to talk to your kids about water safety. Make sure they understand the importance of following water rules. Enrolling your kids in swimming lessons and water safety courses is also a good idea. It will give them the skills they need to be safe around the water and it will also give you peace of mind.

Choosing the correct personal flotation device for the appropriate water activity is important. And just because your little one has one on doesn’t mean they should be left alone in the water.

Making sure your child’s PFD fits properly based on their weight and body size is also important. Life jackets, innertubes and armbands can all malfunction. They can deflate or come undone, creating a drowning hazard. Kids should wear a flotation device when on a boat in open water, even if they’re not planning on swimming.

Don’t swim alone. No one should ever swim alone; even older kids should have a swimming buddy.

Tifani Kinard is Vice President of Rural Health for Atrium Health Floyd.

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