It’s that time of year- summer in Seattle! Living in the Northwest, we are surrounded by natural beauty, and everywhere you look, there’s water! The Puget Sound, lakes, rivers, and pools are accessible year round, and are particularly fun during the summer months when the weather is nice.

Being near, on, and in the water is a popular summer activity. One of my family’s favorite things to do over summer weekends is to head to the beach. The minute hit the sand, my 7 year-old is stripping off his shoes and socks and my 18 month old is struggling to do the same. I scramble to slather sunblock on their wriggling bodies, often wondering why I didn’t attempt this feat before we left the house. The boys and I run to the edge where the beach meets the surf and throw rocks in the water. Feeling the sand between our toes and the water on our skin can be a wonderful sensory experience, and one that many children enjoy and often seek out, including children with autism. However, having children near the water is often cause for concern for many parents and rightly so, as drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury death in the United States. In Washington State an average of 25 children and teens drown every year.

Water safety tips from the Red Cross:

  • Make Water Safety a Priority

    • Never leave a child unattended near water; always stay within arm’s reach of children and avoid distraction when supervising.
    • Have children wear U.S Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water
    • Enroll children in swim lessons:
      • Seattle Parks and Recreation offers lessons for children with special needs. For more information call 206-684-4950.
      • For additional information on swim lessons and programs, please visit the Seattle Children’s website.
    • Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone, even at a pool or life-guarded beach.
  • Know What To Do In an Emergency

    • If a child is missing, check the water first, as seconds count in preventing death or disability.
    • Know how and when to call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
    • Enroll in a Red Cross water safety, first aid and CPR/AED course to learn how to prevent and respond to emergencies.

Lets keep children safe near, on and in the water this summer. In doing so, we can fully enjoy the experience and have fun. Learn more about water safety and drowning prevention and find resources on Seattle Children’s website.