“The summer is a great time to connect with family and friends and spend time outdoors, hanging out by the pool or grilling out at a barbeque,” said Renée McCabe, Safe Kids Greater Augusta coordinator. “But with all these activities come safety risks that we may not always think about. Two-thirds of swimming tragedies occur between May and August. By reminding ourselves of a few safety tips, the summer can be safer and fun for everyone.”

Safe Kids Greater Augusta recommends the following top tips to stay safe during the summer.

  1. Give children your undivided attention. Actively supervise children throughout the summer, whether it’s at the playground or in and around water. Small children can drown in as little as one inch of water.
  2. Use the Water Watcher strategy. When there are several adults present and children are swimming, use the Water Watcher card strategy to designate an adult as the Water Watcher for a certain amount of time (such as 15-minute periods). This precaution can prevent lapses in supervision and give parents a chance to read, make phone calls or take a bathroom break. Even if a lifeguard is present, it is not their job to supervise children. 
  3. Educate your children about swimming safety. Every child is different, so enroll children in swimming lessons when you feel they are ready. Whether swimming in a backyard pool or in a lake, teach children to swim with an adult. Older, more experienced swimmers should always swim with a partner.
  4. Learn CPR. We know you have a million things to do, but learning CPR should be at the top of the list. This skill will give you tremendous peace of mind— and the more peace of mind you have as a parent, the better. Check out the American Heart Association Training Center at www.augusta.edu/mcg/ahactc for information about local CPR classes.
  5. Be extra careful around pool drains. Teach children to never play or swim near drains or suction outlets, which can cause situations where children can get stuck underwater. 
  6. Wear life jackets. Georgia law requires all children under the age of 13 to wear a life jacket approved by the U.S. Coast Guard while on boats, around open bodies of water or when participating in water sports. To ensure the jacket fits snugly, have the child make a “touchdown” signal by raising both arms straight up; if the life jacket hits the child’s chin or ears, it may be too large or the straps may be too loose.
  7. Stay Hydrated. When playing, have your children bring a water bottle and drink plenty of water before and during recreation. This practice is especially important in summer months when temperatures in Augusta are increasingly high.
  8. Set up your grill with safety in mind. Use long-handled grilling tools and position your grill well away from siding, deck railings and overhanging branches, while keeping a safe distance from play areas and foot traffic. Periodically remove grease or fat buildup in trays below the grill to prevent accidental fires.
  9. Never leave your child alone in a car, not even for a minute. It can be tempting to leave a child alone in a car while you quickly run into a store, but this rash decision can cause serious injury or even death in a matter of minutes. Reduce the number of deaths from heatstroke by remembering to ACTavoid heatstroke, create reminders and take action if you see a child left alone.
  10. Wear a helmet for biking and other wheeled sports. We have a simple saying: “Use your head, wear a helmet.” It is the single most effective safety device available to reduce head injury and death from bike crashes. Kids should wear a helmet when riding a scooter, skating, skateboarding or biking.

Safe Kids Greater Augusta, led by the Children’s Hospital of Georgia, works to prevent accidental childhood injury, the leading killer of children ages 1 to 19. Safe Kids Greater Augusta is a member of the Safe Kids Worldwide network. To find out more about the local Safe Kids program, call 706-721-7606, or visit augustahealth.org/safekids. Check out more safety tips, the Ultimate Car Seat Guide and “Parent Pep Talk” at SafeKids.org.

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