With the beach just a day trip away and a Guide to Splash Pads & Water Fun Around Columbia to help you on your way, it’s time to turn to an equally important topic: water safety. With a long hot summer ahead of us full of fun in the pool or at the beach, here are six safety tips from Finding Nemo and Finding Dory to keep your kids safe as they “just keep swimming.”
1. Watch Your Kids
Honestly, the plots of Finding Nemo and Finding Dory boil down to parents doing their best to watch their kids and still ending up losing them for a period of time. I think there are no more vigilant parents than Marlin, Charlie, and Jenny, and yet even their kids swam away unattended. The same thing happens to us. In order to ensure that your kids have the supervision they need, the AAP recommends that parents are not distracted at the pool. Parents should not be “involved in any other activity such as reading, playing cards, on the phone.”
Obviously there are going to be times that you can’t watch your kids. It can be easy to assume that a blanket statement to a group of adults to keep an eye on your little ones will suffice, but often times that isn’t enough. If you need to walk away for a few minutes, make sure that you specifically designate another adult to watch your kids while you are gone. Look them in the eyes and say, “You are in charge of them until I come back. DO NOT STOP WATCHING THEM UNTIL THEN.” Otherwise, you may end up in a situation like this:
With dozens of fish eyes in the tank above, you would think that someone would have seen Dory fall out and slip down a drain. But no one did!
2. Help Your Kids Take a Break
Marlin, being a conscientious parent, is constantly worried about Nemo’s swimming capabilities. So when he drops him off for his first day of school, he makes it a point to ask the teacher to watch out in case Nemo gets tired.
Just like Marlin, try to give your kids a break if you see that they are struggling swimming. Even if your kids do know how to swim, it’s important to have them take a break. The most experienced swimmers can drown if their bodies are overtired. Recognize the signs of drowning and make sure your child has the energy to keep afloat.
3. Watch Out For Drains
Drains seem to be another predominant theme in Finding Nemo and Finding Dory. Nemo gets sucked up the drain pictured below, and almost dies as a result. Dory gets sucked down the pipes and eventually ends up getting drained into the ocean.
According to an article from Parents.com, “Few parents realize that children can die in a pool or hot tub by getting sucked down and trapped in a drain. A child’s hair or bathing suit can also get stuck.” Changes in pool safety laws have decreased the chances of your children getting stuck in the drains, but it is still something to be aware of.
4. Beware of the Undertow
Just as Dory’s parents sang, “We see the undertow, and we say ‘heck no!'” Undertows, also known as riptides, are channels of water that flow from the beach out to the sea.
Like Jenny and Charlie, teach your kids to recognize what an undertow would look or feel like. According to a Huffington Post article, one way to identify these are to watch the waves. If the waves aren’t breaking, it’s deeper than you think and there may be a spot that’s pulling out to sea. You can also look out for discolored water near the shore. Riptides are also common by sandbars and piers. Teach your kids to avoid undertows, and if they get stuck in one, to swim parallel to the shore until then can get out of it.
5. Watch Out for Jellyfish
Remember when Dory finds a tiny jellyfish and names it “Squishy”? She ends up getting stung because she doesn’t realize the danger.
Kids (and adults) may not realize that jellyfish can still sting even if they are dead. According to USA Today, “Jellyfish are common visitors to many beaches, so teach kids to keep their eyes peeled for these stinging animals…tell kids not to poke or prod animals that wash up on the sand.”
6. Always Have a Swimming Buddy
As Marlin and Dory embark on a trip across the ocean, they receive a lot of sage advice from Crush the turtle. One of these is the importance of having an exit buddy. They were instructed to identify their exit buddy and stay with them at all times.
Similarly, it’s always good for your kids to have a swimming buddy! Whether they are in the pool, at the beach, or diving out of the East Australian Current, having someone else with them will help keep them safer. As Dory later learns, it was always better for her to have a buddy so she didn’t end up getting lost or confused. As she goes through her adventure in Finding Dory, she tries to make sure that she always has someone to help her along the way – whether it was Marlin, Hank, Destiny, or her parents.
I hope these tips stay with you just as much as the catchy “just keep swimming” tune. Enjoy the water!