Since I can remember, I’ve had a great affinity with water. I love marine life, and I love to go swimming, body surfing, sailing, tubing, and, of course, relaxing (in a hot bath or a hot tub). But because I grew up in an area with particularly high incidences of drowning, I also recognize the dangers than can exist if we’re not safe around and in water.

Now, I don’t say that to scare you. Instead, I want you to focus on how you and your family can be best educated about how to have fun and minimize risks around the pool, hot tub, or bathroom.

You should first be aware that even a small amount of water–just an inch or so–can cause a very small child to drown, especially babies who have little locomotion control over their head, neck, and torso. NEVER leave a small child alone in the bathroom or backyard, where they can lift up a toilet seat out of curiosity and fall in or where they can slip into the pool or hot tub.

Current research shows that children can safely take swimming lessons from under one year, and that knowing how to swim, even in rudimentary fashion, can save your little one’s life. Ask your pediatrician for more specific advice regarding your son or daughter.

I am madly in love with both my sauna and hot tub, especially after a long workout, but these are the water-related facilities that give adults the most trouble. The high temperatures of both can raise your core temperature dangerously if you maintain exposure for longer than fifteen minutes at a time.

If you have a spa installed in your yard or at your apartment complex, then bring along an alarm or timer that will let you know when it’s time to take a break, though if you feel lightheaded, overheated, or faint before your 15 minutes has ended, be sure to get out right away. Also, never leave a child under the age of 14 unattended in a hot tub, and make sure you instruct all of your children about the danger of prolonging their stay in the hot water.

Saunas are tremendously beneficial for clearing the body of toxins and assisting asthmatics when mild respiratory challenges arise, but the same warnings apply to them as hot tubs. Furthermore, saunas should never serve as a substitute for medication prescribed by a doctor.

Always follow the law in your area regarding your swimming pool. The town that I grew up in had a strict ordinance about fences and gates around the pool, and the ones who didn’t follow it were inevitably the ones who ended up on the news, sobbing. I highly recommend keeping flotation devices near the hot tub and floating on the surface of the pool, just in case.

Your pool, hot tub, and sauna will do nothing but provide you hours of fun and relaxation as long as you are wise and careful. Teach your whole family safety around water right from the beginning.

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