family swim spa safety

Embrace summer safely: Essential water safety tips

Retired pro triathletes Mirinda Carfrae and Tim O’Donnell are always around the water. Not only do they have sessions in the pool or swim spa as a part of the “work day,” they also spend time at the beach while visiting family in Australia and on the big island of Hawaii for the IRONMAN World Championships. 

And as the couple has expanded their family, the water is also a time to relax and enjoy time together. Whether it’s at the ocean, pool, or the family swim spa, it’s important to them that their time in the water is as safe as it is fun. 

Emphasizing water safety is essential for Rinny and Tim, who have three young children. They want their children to have a love and respect for the water that they can take with them into adulthood. 

From an early introduction to designating a water watcher, the couple shares their best tips for keeping children safe in the water.

water safety tips

The importance of water safety

A drowning can happen in what feels like an instant. In the time it takes you to respond to a text message or reach down for your water, a person can be already struggling in the water. In fact, a drowning can happen in as little as 20 to 60 seconds.

As the weather heats up and families spend more time in the water, May’s National Water Safety Month is a great reminder of just how important it is to make water safety a priority. 

National Water Safety Month is a collaborative initiative led by prominent organizations such as the American Red Cross, the National Recreation and Park Association, the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance, and the World Waterpark Association. Its primary goal is to educate people on essential safety measures to follow when participating in aquatic activities. And organizations such as the Michael Phelps Foundation help support this mission. 

Why is it so important to put the spotlight on water safety? Here are some important water safety facts to keep in mind: 

Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death for children ages 1-4, and it’s the second leading cause for kids younger than 14. 

There are about 8,0000 non-fatal drownings per year.

According to findings from a study conducted by the American Red Cross, there is a significant disparity between self-perceived swimming ability and actual proficiency among Americans. Although 80 percent of respondents reported being able to swim, only 56 percent demonstrated competence in all five fundamental swimming skills necessary for safety.

water safety for kids

Expert tips for water safety

Spending quality time in and around the water offers an opportunity to create lasting memories with your family.

But the reality is that scary situations can happen. Making water safety just as much a priority as fun can help ensure that those memories around the water are happy ones. 

No one understands this better than retired pro triathletes Mirinda Carfrae and Tim O’Donnell. After years of serious swim training and racing in open water environments, being in the water has been a big part of their lives. 

As parents, they now have the opportunity to share that appreciation and love of the water with their children. Encouraging a safe and fun experience has allowed them to raise children who are confident and happy in the water.

A Master Spas swim spa allows you to swim, exercise, and play in the water year-round in the convenience of your backyard. 

Early introduction to the water

“We just have had them in and around water since they were babies,” Tim and Rinny say, adding that it’s important to help kids be confident. 

Children who are comfortable and confident in their swimming abilities are more likely to stay calm and make good decisions around the water.

There are different ways of encouraging confidence around the water. One way is to encourage and help your kids get their faces wet, which is something Tim and Rinny have done. Gently splashing water in the face and even opting for showers over baths can get children used to that feeling — making it normal and not something scary. 

Family swimming sessions can also build that confidence. Offering the health and entertainment benefits of a pool, a Master Spas swim spa allows families to swim, exercise, and play in the water year-round in the convenience of their backyard. 

Providing a controlled environment, an H2X Challenger 18D Pro allows Tim and Rinny to closely supervise their children while enjoying unstructured play and working on swim skills. 

water safety tips for kids

Early and consistent education

It’s never too soon to start teaching children to be safe and confident swimmers. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, by having kids as young as 1 year old take swimming lessons, you can greatly reduce their risk of drowning. In fact, swim lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by up to 88 percent for children ages 1 to 4.

Swim lessons aren’t just about learning swim strokes and how to make it from one side of a pool to the other. Children also learn how to float and turn over in the water so they can breathe. 

Tim and Rinny have enrolled their children in swim lessons at an early age. One of the advantages, they have found, is that children can be more willing to work on a skill with an instructor that they might not otherwise try. Instructors are able develop a more personal relationship that is based on trust, and they can work together to build skills and confidence in a structured environment.

Adult supervision

Keeping children safe can be all about keeping eyes on the water at all times. At their Boulder home, Tim and Rinny make sure that a dedicated “water watcher” adult is always outside with the children when the swim spa is in use. They maintain this supervision even if the cover is simply open while taking care of routine swim spa maintenance.

“You can never be too careful,” says Mirinda. “It only takes a brief lapse – turning your back to answer the phone or run inside – for a child to get into danger in the water. We treat our swim spa with the same precautions as any other body of water.”

One of the advantages of a Master Spas swim spa is that it is designed with safety in mind. The insulating cover has a locking system that can prevent curious children from being able to open the swim spa cover without an adult present. Tim and Rinny also note that the rigid cover is too large and heavy for kids to pull off on their own.

Choosing the best swimwear

While it may seem like a minor detail, carefully selecting swim gear colors is an easy way to add an extra layer of safety when your family is around the water.

Alive Solutions, which specializes in water safety and training, put a variety of swimsuit colors to the test. The goal: To see how easy it is to see which swimwear colors were most visible in the water. 

For example, a white swimsuit might not stand out in an open body of water because it will look like a reflection of clouds in the water. Dark swimsuits can blend in when a pool has a dark bottom.

Parents should opt for high-contrast yellows, oranges, pinks, and reds. Swimsuits with patterns or prints incorporating light and bright tones also make it easy to spot children in the water.  

The safety of floaties and water wings

Inflatable pool floats, water wings, and life jackets can make time in the water a lot of fun. And they can be convenient, too, when you’re at a pool.  

But these accessories can also offer kids and parents a false sense of security. Floaties and rafts, while buoyant, are not life-saving devices, according to the Pool and Hot Tub Alliance

Tim and Rinny say they’ve always been proponents of teaching swim skills and not using inflatable wings. It allows their kids to continue to build confidence and get more comfortable in the water.

Creating positive associations with proper supervision, training, gear, and precautions allows children to gain comfort and confidence that will serve them well into adulthood. These tips from the pros help turn your family time into a chance to equip your family with the skills to have fun safely around the water.

buy a swim spa

Invest in a backyard pool alternative

Do you want to be able to swim, exercise, and relax at home? Having an H2X Fitness Swim Spa by Master Spas allows you to swim on your schedule while adding a fun factor to your backyard. You can click here to find out more about the benefits of hydrotherapy and relaxing in a swim spa. Or, contact your local Master Spas retailer to learn more about swim spa ownership. Wondering how much a swim spa costs? You can request a quote here.