May is National Water Safety Month, but as the Aquatics Director for the Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City, Michigan, water safety is something I think about every day. I joined the Great Wolf Pack in 2004 as a lifeguard and together with the entire aquatics team, I have been focused on helping our guests have safe and fun experiences in our water park. One of my favorite activities is to watch our youngest guests take part in our Jr. Lifeguard and community swim lesson programs.
I often get questions about water safety. With summer fast approaching, here are a few tips I tell my friends and family as they plan visits to the local community pool, beach and even Great Wolf Lodge.
- Never assume someone else is watching your child. Even with lifeguards nearby, you have the responsibility for your child. Besides, the best way to keep your child safe is to play right alongside them.
- Never swim alone. Always use the buddy system and be sure the area is well supervised by lifeguards before you or others in your group enter the water.
- Plan ahead. As a family, decide on a meeting place to go to if anyone gets separated. Kids can take off in instant and crowded parks and beaches can make it difficult for little ones to find you. An easy-to-spot location will help ease fears.
- Stay hydrated. Swimming and playing takes a lot of energy, especially during the hot summer months. Drink plenty of water or sports drinks and rest in a cool location.
- Too much sun is no fun. Be sure to limit your exposure during peak hours of 12pm-3pm and reapply waterproof/sweat proof sunscreen every 80 minutes.
- Encourage your child to wear a life jacket. Many public pools and water parks, like Great Wolf Lodge, provide life jackets for your use, free of charge.
- Before heading to the beach, pool or water park, avoid swimsuits that have ties, grommets or decorations that could get caught on something during water activities.
- Skip the flip-flops. Look for sandals with a heel strap or a full-coverage, slip-on water shoe that will stay in place both in and out of the water.
- Read all of the signs before going on a waterslide, pool or attraction. Make sure your child is tall enough. Always go down the water slide face up and feet first. If you have questions about an attraction, ask a lifeguard.
- Take a CPR course. Knowing these skills can be important in any environment. This is a skill we all can benefit from – on land and around water.
- If you see someone struggling in the water, call for help. Remember “Reach or Throw, Don’t Go!” Even professionally trained lifeguards don’t enter the water without having the proper flotation devices to keep themselves safe.
Summer is a the perfect time of year for water activities and all of us at Great Wolf Lodge look forward to welcoming you and your family for a safe and memorable visit!
Director of Aquatics
Great Wolf Lodge - Traverse City