Stay Safe in the Water: East Portland Pediatricians Share Expert Tips

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As the summer heat settles in, families in Portland eagerly seek relief near rivers, swimming holes, lakes, and swimming pools. 

While water activities offer a refreshing respite, it’s crucial to ensure your children’s safety. As your East Side pediatricians, we want to help you navigate the waters while keeping your family safe and sound.


Keep Eyes on Your Kids

Water play doesn’t always happen at public pools or lakes — the fun happens at home, too. Ensure any backyard swimming pools are securely fenced and equipped with childproof locks where possible.

Never leave young children unattended near any body or pool of water, no matter how shallow. Drowning can occur in a matter of seconds and is often silent. Stay within arm’s reach young children, ideally with your hand on them at all times.

Designate a responsible adult as a “water watcher” who remains attentive and actively supervises children near water. Remember, distractions like smartphones or reading can compromise safety. 


Buddy-Up for Water Adventures

Whether it’s in a river, lake, or pool, always encourage your children to swim with a buddy. Having a swim buddy ensures they have someone to rely on and raises the alarm if anything goes wrong. 

The buddy system is an effective strategy that fosters a sense of responsibility among friends and promotes safer water activities.


Be Mindful of River Conditions

Around Portland, the allure of nearby rivers can be particularly tempting. However, before taking the plunge, be mindful of river conditions. Rivers can be cold and fast-moving, posing a risk for people of all ages.

Note any warning signs at beaches and follow them.


Life Jackets are a Must

When participating in water activities, ensure your child wears a properly fitted U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket. Life jackets are crucial for non-swimmers, inexperienced swimmers, or whenever strong currents or deep water are involved. 

Even if your child knows how to swim, we recommend life jackets for an extra layer of protection and peace of mind for parents. 

Be a great example by wearing a well-fitted life jacket when boating or paddling.


Teach Swim Skills and Water Awareness

Enrolling your child in swim lessons can be an invaluable investment. (It can be difficult to sign up for Portland Parks lessons if you’re not ready the moment they open. Check out the local high school swimming pools like Parkrose, Reynolds, and David Douglas.)

Learning to swim from an early age equips kids with vital water safety skills and boosts their confidence in the water. In addition to swimming skills, be sure to teach about water awareness including beach safety, water boundaries, and knowing your limits. 


Stay Hydrated

Splashing around in the water can be exhilarating, but remember to stay hydrated on hot summer days. Encourage your children to take regular breaks from swimming and drink plenty of fluids. Drinking plenty of water will help keep their bodies cool and functioning optimally.


Learn CPR

Knowing first aid and CPR can be a lifesaver. Consider enrolling in a CPR course specific to pediatric emergencies. Many local organizations and healthcare providers in Portland offer CPR training, equipping parents with the skills to respond swiftly and effectively in critical situations.


What You Need to Know About “Dry Drowning”

“Dry drowning” is a term that has gained significant attention and concern among parents. Always feel free to ask your pediatrician if you have any questions about this phenomenon. 

Dry drowning, or secondary drowning, occurs when water irritates the airways, causing them to spasm and restrict airflow. While it sounds alarming, the good news is that it’s quite rare. 

Keep an eye out for the following symptoms after your child has been in the water:

  • Persistent coughing or coughing fits
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Extreme fatigue or lethargy
  • Sudden changes in behavior or mood
  • Bluish tint around the lips or face

If you notice any of the above symptoms, seek immediate medical attention. 

While dry drowning is rare, it’s always better to err on the side of caution. Your pediatrician can evaluate your child’s symptoms, provide appropriate treatment, and offer reassurance.


East Portland Pediatrics

As summer unfolds in Portland, embracing water-related activities can be a joyous experience for the whole family. By following these summer safety tips, you can ensure your children’s well-being while enjoying the refreshing waters of rivers, swimming holes, lakes, and pools. 

We’re here to provide guidance and support in keeping your families safe. Stay vigilant, swim with buddies, and keep us at East Portland Pediatric Clinic informed of any concerns. Let’s make this summer a memorable and safe one!