Oh, Wisconsin. With record-setting snowfalls already cemented this year, and a prediction of below-zero temps in our near future, I don’t blame anyone for fleeing our arctic zone for some sunshine and warmth! (I just wish I could go, too!).

Between families traveling for the holidays and others heading south this winter, there will likely be many families heading to the beach or hotel pool. And, because we live in Wisconsin, it’s likely been many months since you last threw on your bathing suit or had your family near a swimming pool, at least outside of weekly swim lessons. Between unfamiliar environments and the length of time your kids last swam, winter vacations are a great time to refresh your memory on water safety and make sure you’re ready to head out of town.

We’ve heard the stats on drowning – it’s one of the leading causes of accidental death in children—and SwimWest is passionate about helping kids and families stay safe in the water.

Here are some simple, critical tips to help you as you travel this winter.

Designate a Water Watcher:

If you are staying in a rental house with a pool, swimming at a hotel, playing at the beach or otherwise near a body of water, the number one thing you can do to keep your child safe is make sure to designate a Water Watcher. A Water Watcher is a designated adult that will have their eyes on the child at all times. No cell phones, no distracting conversation. This person is in charge of making sure the child is safe while in the water, and that the child is NOT in the water when they shouldn’t be.

Barriers to the Water

Ideally anywhere you stay should have multiple layers of protection separating your child from the water. Things like fences around the swimming pool, a locked door to the hotel pool, gates with latches, etc. It should be difficult for a child to get to the water without help from an adult. Make sure to check and see what barriers are in place at the hotel or home you’re visiting. In addition, check for safety equipment and make sure you know where to find a rescue ring or float if you need one.

Refresh the Rules

Make sure everyone has a refresher course on the rules and expectations near water.

  1. No diving in shallow water or without adult approval
  2. No running on the deck
  3. No pushing or horseplay
  4. NO swimming without an adult present
  5. Always swim with a buddy
  6. Always wear a life jacket when boating

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Travel is exciting, and kids may not remember to follow the normal safety rules. Please remember that tragedies can happen in an instant and make sure you and your family stay safe this winter.

For more information on drowning and swim safety, visit https://www.safekids.org/watersafety