Summer just isn’t summer without time at the pool or lake. But don’t let those trips turn to tragedy because of an accident.

Remember these safety tips whenever you’re near water:

  • Keep an eye out. “Supervision is key—I cannot stress that enough,” says Kim Quayle, MD, a Washington University emergency medicine physician at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “Keep young children at arms’ length. Water wings and other swimming aids do not take the place of an alert parent.”

At pool parties or other large gatherings, Dr. Quayle recommends having an adult “water watcher.”

“Also, always seek care for a child who has persistent coughing or breathing difficulty,” she says. “Drowning is a significant cause of death among children, and the threat should be taken seriously.”

  • Invest in swim lessons. Your children will learn basic strokes and other important safety skills, such as how to float and tread water.
  • Teach kids the dos and don’ts of diving. Diving into a lake without knowing how deep it is or into a shallow pool can cause serious spinal cord injuries. Never allow kids to dive into water shallower than five feet deep. The American Red Cross recommends a minimum of nine feet.

For more information about water safety, contact the Family Resource Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital by calling 314.454.KIDS (5437) and pressing “5,” or visit StLouisChildrens.org and search “Water Safety.

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Expert Advice