Celebrating the Fourth of July is always so much fun with kids, and there are tons of options for family-friendly fun here in the Madison area. From seeing fireworks, hosting BBQs, heading out on one of our lovely local lakes, hitting the pool or just relaxing at home, there are so many ways to make the most of the holiday. It’s also a HUGE day for water activities, so make sure you’re up to speed on water safety tips, especially during one of the busiest water days of the year.

This is the first year my family has joined a pool for the summer, and with that has come an entirely new perspective on water safety. My kids feel almost TOO comfortable in the water, which means they think they can do and handle more than they really can. My 5 year old daughter tries hard to keep up with her big brother, but she’s not quite ready to swim across the deep end yet, at least not consistently. Trying to slow her down and keep her safe is definitely a full-time job when we are near the water.

I love to put my kids in their SwimWest swim caps because the bright colors help them stay easily spotted, and we try to go to the pool at off-peak times so it’s not quite as busy.

The biggest, most important thing we do is make sure one of us is always “on duty” as a Water Watcher. It’s so easy to assume that the lifeguards would notice if someone was struggling, or the crowds of people in the pool would be able to help if they saw your child having trouble, but the truth is, they might not. Instead, I make sure my eyes (or my husband’s eyes) are always keeping track of them in the water. Vigilance is critical to keeping your child safe.

Here are a few other water safety tips to keep in mind this fourth of July:

  • Boat Safety – Make sure everyone has a life jacket that fits properly and is always on and secured before entering the boat. Life jackets MUST be coast guard approved – do not rely on floaties or pool noodles to keep your child safe. And, with the unpredictable weather lately, make sure you check the forecast before you head out on the water.
  • Pool Safety – If you are hosting or attending a pool party, make sure you don’t rely on a safety fence to keep your little ones out of the water. Keep a close eye on the gate, make sure it stays locked, and always, always, always make sure children are supervised in the pool. As mentioned above, floaties and pool noodles are TOYS, not safety devices. Please make sure your child is wearing a coast-guard approved life jacket or puddle jumper if they need assistance in the water.
  • Party Safety – Holidays bring socializing, and staying focused on your child can be difficult when you are having a conversation with friends, grilling or having a cocktail. Make sure you have a designated Water Watcher so you can take turns enjoying the party and supervising the little ones.

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Have a SAFE and happy Fourth of July!