It’s easy to forget that the parts of summer many of us love most—the long days spent relaxing in and around pools, oceans, and lakes—can also be the most dangerous for our children. When you can’t be there to supervise your kids, it’s important to know that your summer nanny has a clear understanding of how to keep a child safe in the water.
With the help of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ guidelines, we’ve assembled a list of tips on how best to keep children safe when splashing in the pool or playing at the beach.
The most important rule of water safety is to make absolutely certain that children in swimming pools or large bodies of water are properly supervised. Never leave children alone in or near a pool, even just to run inside for a minute. If a child under the age of 5 is in the water, there should always be an adult (preferably CPR-certified) within arm’s length to provide touch supervision.
In open water, children should never swim alone. Ocean swimming should only be permitted if a lifeguard is on duty; whoever is supervising the child should also remain within an arm’s length, in case of an emergency.
Sunscreen and proper footwear
It doesn’t matter if it is sunny or cloudy outside, always make sure children are wearing at least SPF 15 broad-spectrum sunscreen. Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours, or after swimming or sweating. Make sure to apply sunscreen before leaving for the pool or beach. Always allow at least thirty minutes between applying sunscreen and going outdoors to ensure the skin has time to fully absorb it. Children should also wear nonslip shoes to avoid injury when walking on pool decks.
Rescue equipment and life jackets
If you own your own pool, rescue equipment (a shepherd’s hook and life preserver) and a portable telephone should be near the water at all times. Be sure to choose rescue equipment made of materials that do not conduct electricity. Avoid inflatable swimming aids; they are not a substitute for life jackets and can give parents a false sense of security. On the same token, blow-up toys and rafts should not be relied on as floatation devices. Children should always wear life vests on boats, docks, or near large bodies of water. To be effective, the jacket should not be loose and should be worn with all straps fastened.
Entrapment, riptides, and strong currents
Entrapment happens when the suction from a pool or spa drain traps a swimmer underwater. Do not use a pool if there are broken or missing drain covers. If you own your own pool, be sure your drains are compliant with the Pool and Spa Safety Act.
Before swimming in open water, remember to teach the children what to do if they encounter a riptide. If they get caught in a riptide, they should swim parallel to shore until they escape it, then swim back to shore. Never allow children to swim in fast-moving water.
Your nanny’s duties and responsibilities revolve around maintaining close supervision of the children when you are not available. However, it’s important to make sure she is up-to-date on all summer safety recommendations. Summer nanny agencies, such as the Nanny Authority, work with candidates who are knowledgeable in water safety and CPR. When you partner with such an agency, you can trust that your child is safe while having fun at the pool or beach.