Whether you’re splashing in the pool, swimming in a lake or paddling in the sea with your kids, swim safely with these holiday swimming safety tips.
Swimming pools offer hours of exhausting fun for the young and old. The key to ensuring water safety for kids around the pool? Set clear ground rules before they take their first dip. These should include only entering the water when a known adult is present, and absolutely no running by the wet, slippery poolside. If in doubt, snap up some slip-resistant children’s slides or jelly shoes for extra peace of mind.
Get familiar with your holiday pool
Head injuries commonly occur when children and adults mistakenly dive or jump into shallow areas, so get to know the pool layout, its depth and where the shallow and deep areas are. If you’re at a hotel pool, check how and when it’s supervised, and don’t assume that a pool attendant is a trained lifeguard. For their own swimming safety, children should never be left unsupervised in a pool, even if you consider them to be strong swimmers. And while swimming aids such as armbands can be helpful for little ones learning to swim, they should never be relied upon for their buoyancy.
Increase your pool safety with added security
Considering a private villa holiday? Increase your swimming pool safety and provide another barrier to entry by choosing a villa or gite with pool enclosure or lockable gates. Many European destinations have their own laws surrounding private swimming pools – in France, for example, it is a legal requirement for all outdoor swimming pools to be fenced off with safety barriers and self-locking access points such as gates.
Don’t go mad with pool toys
A private pool is a one-way ticket to all-day family fun. Inflatables, dive toys, water pistols, foam noodles, rubber rings… the scope for pool accessories is endless! Here, the golden rule for swimming pool safety (and water safety for kids in particular) is to keep the number of swim toys in the pool at one time to a minimum. As tempting as it can be (for kids and adults!), a busy pool choc-full of inflatables is a distraction and can mask your view of the pool floor.
Beach holiday safety tips
The unbeatable allure of the ocean makes a beach holiday a winner for all the family, but a busy beach can make even the most laid back parent feel a mild pang of anxiety. The trick to beach swimming safety is to do your research before you go – look up family-friendly beaches, get recommendations, find supervised beaches and know which beaches to avoid.
Once you’ve found your beach, don’t stop there. Get to know the local beach flags and what they mean. Determine which areas include lifeguards, which are no-go zones for swimmers, and enquire about tides and any dangerous currents. Finally, always stick to the safe areas marked for swimming, regardless of what other swimmers are doing.
Respect the ocean
Swimming in the sea, with bona fide waves, can be an exhilarating experience, not just for kids but for adults too. However, little ones can panic when faced with on-coming waves, so stick extra close when you’re swimming in the sea. An important water safety tip to teach your child is never to turn their back to the sea when paddling near waves. It only takes a split-second for a wave to break, roll them under and disorientate them. Thinking of bringing an inflatable to the beach? Save it for the pool. The risk of being blown out to sea is too great.
Be aware of underwater hazards
Up your swimming safety by being wary of underwater hazards. Sudden drops in the ocean floor, rocks and sharp reefs all offer water safety issues for adults and children. And never let children jump or dive in to the sea from rocks or piers.
Water safety for rivers and lakes
Picturesque lakes and rivers can provide an idyllic setting for holiday swimming and often feel calmer than a busy beach. As tranquil as they may appear, lakes and rivers come with their own water safety rules, as even seemingly mild currents can unbalance small children. Adults should do a quick depth check with a long stick before anyone dips a toe in, as mud and silt can easily mask the water’s true depth, making it appear shallower than it actually is. Lake and river beds can be stony and uneven, and may drop away suddenly, so enter cautiously for a safe, enjoyable swim.
Respect ‘no swimming’ signs
When the lake looks calm, beautiful and inviting, it can be tempting to turn a blind eye to ‘no swimming’ signs on holiday. But for your swimming safety, always respect the local signs. It’s most likely they know something you don’t – polluted water, dangerous weeds, unexpected currents, etc. It’s not worth the risk, so keep going until you find an authorised lake or river.