Family Smarts

It’s that time of year… Summer’s coming, the temperature’s rising, the kids are outside, and the water beckons 

Water safety and much more
By Heather Cameron

If you have young children, you are probably very aware of water dangers. But drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death for those between the ages of five and 24, so water safety is not just for the little ones in your family. One of the most important things you can do for your child’s water safety is start your child in swimming lessons while they are still very young. They will build up their confidence and skills with each passing year. And never, ever, let your children out of your sight when they are swimming. With especially young children, that means you should always be within an arms’ length away. Whatever your child’s age, teach them to follow some of these simple tips to stay safe and be sure to reinforce these rules even as they become young adults.

Swimming smarts
Bring a buddy.
Always, always, always swim with a buddy. No matter how experienced a swimmer is, stuff happens and having a buddy swimming with you will ensure that someone is there to help you or go get help should something go wrong.

Swim to your skills.
Don’t swim in an area or in a depth that is beyond your swimming abilities. It can be hard to not do what some of your friends are doing, but it is better for you to be safe than sorry.

Choose safe spots.
Be familiar with your swim area. If you are swimming in a pool, make sure you know your way around it — if no diving is permitted at the pool, there is a reason for that rule, so follow it. If you are swimming in open water, try to choose areas with lifeguards. If that’s not possible, you need to at least check to see if there are currents or other dangers present. Do not dive in unfamiliar waters. Just because you cannot see the bottom does not mean that the water is deep enough for diving. And watch for boats and jet skis. You are not as visible or as fast moving as a motor craft, so you need to pay extra  attention to your surroundings.

Be careful about diving.
Diving injuries can cause permanent spinal cord damage, paralysis, and sometimes even death. Protect yourself by only diving in areas that are known to
be safe, such as the deep end of a supervised pool. If an area is posted with “No Diving” or “No Swimming” signs, pay attention to them. A “No Diving” sign means the water isn’t safe for a head-first entry. Even if you plan to jump in feet first, check the water’s depth before you leap to make sure there are no hidden rocks or other hazards. Lakes or rivers can be cloudy and hazards may be hard to see.

Watch the sun.
Sun reflecting off the water or off sand can intensify the burning rays. You might not feel sunburned when the water feels cool and refreshing, but the pain will catch up with you later — so remember to reapply sunscreen frequently and cover up much of the time. Don’t forget your hat, UV protection  sunglasses, and protective clothing.

Drink plenty of fluids.
It’s easy to get dehydrated in the sun, particularly if you’re active and sweating. Keep up with fluids — particularly water — to prevent dehydration.  Dizziness, feeling lightheaded, or nausea can be signs of dehydration and overheating.

Getting too cool.
Speaking of temperature, it’s possible to get too cool. How? Staying in very cool water for long periods can lower your body temperature. A temperature of 20°C (70°F) is positively balmy on land, but did you know that water below that temperature will feel cold to most swimmers? Your body temperature drops far more quickly in water than it does on land. And if you’re swimming, you’re using energy and losing body heat even faster than if you were keeping still. Monitor yourself when swimming in cold water and stay close to shore. If you feel your body start to shiver or your muscles cramp up, get out of the water quickly; it doesn’t take long for hypothermia to set in.

Alcohol and water never mix.
Alcohol is involved in numerous water-related injuries and up to half of all waterrelated deaths. The statistics for teenage guys are particularly scary: one half of all adolescent male drownings are tied to alcohol use.

Garage sale smarts
Summer can be a great time to get rid of some unused items and raise some funds with a garage sale. Why not get your kids involved so you can make the garage sale a family project?
Putting up plenty of posters is a great way to direct treasure hunters to your sale, so let your kids get creative. Pick up some poster board or heavy-duty bristol board and some thick markers so your kids can get artistic. Older, tech-savvy kids can post ads on free online sites and e-mail to ad to your local newspaper. Kids of all ages can help price items and put them out on display tables and, on the day of the garage sale, older children can help handle the money. A lemonade stand or bake sale can be a fun enterprise for the kids to run. They can bake up and package some goodies and run their own little refreshment table. Garage sales can be a good time to cull extra kid stuff, but it can be difficult to part children from their toys — even if they don’t play  with them any longer.
To ease the pain, tell your budding entrepreneurs that they will get the proceeds of any toy sale. You can then suggest that a percentage of their earnings be donated to a charity of their choice.

School’s out!
Doing a little bit of organizing in June when school lets out can save you some time later. When your child’s knapsack arrives home, be sure to empty out all the pockets and take a good look at the condition of the bag to determine whether it is worth keeping or not. If possible, pop the knapsack in the wash to freshen it up for the fall. Gather together leftover school supplies worth keeping and write up a quick inventory (e.g., one ruler, no pens, six erasers) so you have a good idea of the supplies you won’t need to purchase in the fall. Gather together the leftover supplies and put them away where you know you will find them again in the fall. If you have the supplies list for your child’s next school year, compare it to your inventory to make up a new shopping list. Then, if you aren’t ready to head out and delve in to some early back-to-school shopping, you can at least watch the flyers for discounts on school  supplies. By finishing off the school year with a little homework, it will make gearing up to go back in the fall that much easier.


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