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Play it safe around water

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POSTED: May 27, 2013 9:56 a.m.

It’s Memorial Day weekend, and that means summer is officially here. With the warmer months come opportunities for outdoor fun — trips to the playground, picnics and, of course, swimming.

This isn’t my daughter’s first summer, but it is the first one Reese will be old enough to enjoy. My husband and I are wasting no time getting her acquainted with water. We made a trip to Jekyll Island late last month. We’ve eagerly been awaiting this weekend’s opening of our subdivision pool. And our little girl spent last weekend splashing around her wading pool in our backyard.

Amid all the excitement, it’s easy to allow safety practices to fall by the wayside. After all, there are so many things to remember. Did you slather on the sunblock? Pack the arm floaties, sunglasses and hats? Don’t forget to take along enough drinking water to avoid dehydration. After rounding up all the necessary equipment, supplies and protection devices, it almost seems easier to stay inside.

Although it is time-consuming to play it safe when you head for the water, it’s definitely worth the extra effort. And, more importantly, please don’t forget that proper supervision is one of the best weapons in your arsenal.

I was reminded of this fact last weekend as Reese played in her wading pool. I sat on the ground right outside the pool with my hands not more than a few inches from her, but she’s quick. She was slipping and sliding from one side of the pool to the other, doing her best to break into a full-scale run when her feet flew out from under her. Reese landed flat on her back in the pool and her head would have bumped the edge if I hadn’t managed to stick my arm out to create a barrier, reacting with speed I didn’t know I had.

Had she been just a few inches closer to the side of the pool — or had my arm missed its mark — Reese could have smacked her head on the concrete patio. Thanks goodness that didn’t happen, but it made me realize how easily such incidents come to pass. A parent may only turn his or her head for a moment, but that’s long enough for disaster to strike.

And while pools — even tiny wading ones — pose plenty of risks, the ocean is a whole different ballgame. Families heading to the beach have much more to worry about — currents, riptides, shores crowded with strangers and critters. (Hey, have you ever been stung by a jellyfish or had a seagull peck food right out of your hand? It happens. Trust me.)

Enjoying the great outdoors — especially the water — comes with responsibilities. Please don’t make the mistake of thinking a bottle of SPF 50 is all you need. Stay with your children. Teach them about the water and how to be careful around it. Consider signing your little ones up for swimming lessons. Even babies can get in on the action. Yes, really! According to the Liberty County/Armed Services YMCA’s website, they offer lessons for infants and adults. Check out the schedule by going to http://www.ymcaofcoastalga.org/ymca/liberty-county/schedules-and-forms.

By taking the proper precautions, packing the necessary gear and paying attention at all times, you and your family can happily and safely take advantage of all the outdoor fun Coastal Georgia has to offer.

 

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