Swimming pools, lakes, rivers and the ocean offer a wonderful respite from the summer heat. They allow families the chance to play together while cooling off, but don’t be fooled. They can be very dangerous.

Families with small children have to be extra cautious and aware at all times when their little ones are near any open body of water. It only takes a split second for a child to fall in and drown.

According to the CDC, fatal drownings are the second-leading cause of death in children, ages 1 to 14. Drownings can be prevented, though, if proper precautions are taken.

Here are some tips to keep your summer fun and cool while keeping your children safe:

  1. Never leave a child unattended by any swimming pool or open body of water. If you’re planning on swimming in an open body of water, make sure to research the weather conditions for that day. Swimming during a thunderstorm with lightning strikes or strong winds is very dangerous. Also, make sure to watch for rip tides or strong currents.
  2. If you have a child under the age of 5, they should be within arm’s length of you at all times when in the water. That way if your child happens to slip beneath the water, you can easily grab them. Older children should never swim alone either. Adopt the buddy system.
  3. If you own a pool, it’s a good idea to put a fence around the perimeter to keep children away from its edge. The fence should be at least four feet high and have a gate that self-latches and is out of reach of little, curious hands. When not in use, you can also cover your pool with an American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) approved cover.
  4. Put life jackets on your children. Air-filled and foam toys, like noodles, and inner tubes are not acceptable substitutes. While they are fun to play with, they will not prevent a child from drowning. If swimming in an open body water, make sure the life jackets you’re using are U.S. Coast Guard approved.
  5. If you’re going to be watching children, do not drink alcohol beforehand or during.
  6. Sign your child up for swimming lessons.
  7. Take a CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) class.

If you have any other suggestions on how to keep your children safe while swimming, please feel free to leave a comment.