Winter Water Safety TipsLast updated: December 22, 2018
A large majority of Houston homes have a pool in the backyard. Not to mention, all of the master planned communities in the greater Houston area are surrounded by lakes, ponds (manmade and natural) and various swimming facilities. With young children home from school during their winter break, it’s important to make sure that they are staying active and busy. It’s equally important to make sure that they are staying safe. It’s always best to have your swimming pool gated off so that your kids will be safe. Having a gate (or some kind of barrier) around your pool reduces the risk of your child having an accidental fall into the pool. It also removes the temptation of trying to get into the pool. A gate 3 to 4 feet high will typically do well in keeping your kids away from the water. A simple Amazon search will lead you to many different options. There are also tarps and nets that can be used to cover your pool. These, of course, can be installed by professional pool companies or builders (for those of us that can afford to be on HGTV’s Ultimate Pools). If the gate does not match your aesthetic or price range, a cheaper option is to buy a pool alarm. The alarm will trigger as soon as someone or something steps too close to the pool. From your toddler to a possum, an alarm will sound.
Vacationing at a Beach Resort
If your private pool is closed for the winter, you may decide to head somewhere tropical to escape. By heading south, you can avoid a cold, rainy, “Christmas Vacation” style family holiday in Houston. Let’s face it, which sounds better, cautiously watching the Christmas tree to ensure a squirrel doesn’t leap out and eating dry, deflated turkey OR soaking up the sun and splashing in the water with your closest loved ones?! The choice is obvious!
While thoughts of not so yummy fruit cakes and busy malls are far in the back of your mind, it’s important to remember water safety, both at the pool and the ocean. The pool and ocean may have lifeguards on duty but it is always important to remember, you are the first layer of protection for your children. Unlike a pool, the beach can be extra dangerous with the shifting waves and currents, not to mention rouge seaweed that you jump at thinking it’s a fish (that could just be me though…)! If your little one is not a confident swimmer, be sure to check with the resort to see that they have life vests available and if not, pack your own. If the beach has a lifeguard station, introduce your family to the guards to let them know you’re swimming that day. Also, give them any pertinent information they may need should an incident happen. Review the rules of water safety with your children. Remind your kiddos that they should never venture into the pool or ocean alone. Adults and children alike should always have an adult and/or a buddy near.
Cruises and Water Parks
If you are lucky enough to spend part of the winter break on a cruise or at an indoor water park there are a few things to keep in mind. Cruise ships, aka floating cities of luxury, offer fun and entertainment for all. In addition to their never-ending entertainment, they are typically very good at providing a great deal of support with water safety rules and expectations. Cruise liners typically provide a host of water-based activities (various pools, water slides, splash pads, water attractions, etc.) but some don’t always have lifeguards on duty. If water safety is important to you (as it should be to all of us) it is recommended to find a cruise that has lifeguards. Water parks are a whole different ballgame! There are tons of children and adults (yes, I’m talking about the dads with not enough sunscreen on and the line skipping teenagers) running around all over the place. But with a proper safety plan, it can be a fun place to splash around for hours. Water parks generally have lifeguards stationed all around the facilities with multiple lifeguards scanning different zones for each attraction. But it’s still important to have an action plan in the event of an accident or mishap. Be sure to listen to all of the rules and encourage your children to listen as well. It’s important when you first arrive to make a plan with your young ones in the case that you get separated. Part of the plan may include identifying lifeguards and other responsible workers as safe adults. Other tips include: pairing children with a buddy, have children practice memorizing your cell phone number and establishing a common meeting place.
Visiting Those Not So Kid-Proof Relatives’ Houses
Twelve strings of garland, eleven glass ornaments hanging, ten ropes of tinsel, nine warm fires lit, eight pristine, kid-free homes… I could keep going but I think you get the point. Visiting relatives’ homes, particularly those that are not baby/kid proof can be stressful! As if the holidays weren’t stressful enough?! If those dreamy homes also happen to have a pool it can be even more stressful. Be sure to follow these safety tips in preparation for your visit:
Talk with your children ahead of time, remind them that there is a pool and of the rules of the pool.
Identify a few responsible adults and rotate child watch duty.
Talk with the owner of the home and see what safety features they may already have in place, for example, latches on doors that are high or out of reach and pool barriers (see above).
Store away any enticing pool toys that may tempt your child to take a dip.
Staying Warm ALL Winter Long at Pengu Swim School
Scary as it may seem, winter will soon be upon us (technically, anyway)! But, have no fear, at Pengu Swim School, we believe that water safety isn’t just a seasonal event. In fact, we are here for you and children to supply a fun water safety experience year-round. Our lessons teach children what they need to know in order to be safe in the water. Whether it be summer or winter, a backyard pool, an indoor water park, a cruise liner, a relative’s fancy home or an unpredictable climate like a lake or beach, year-round lessons help keep those water safety skills fresh and your swimmer strong. So yes, Winter is Coming, but remember, It’s always Summer at Pengu! Brave the cold, stop in today at one of our three (soon to be four) state of the art locations in the Houston area!