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Human Interest

Headed to a Water Park This Summer? Here’s What You Need to Know to Stay Safe

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Water parks can be a fun way to stay cool during the summer, but they don’t come without certain risks. Here’s what you need to know to safeguard your next water adventure.

  • Know your limits. If you don’t know how to swim or you’re not a strong swimmer, only go on rides or in pools where the water level doesn’t go over your head, or be sure to wear a life jacket.
  • Feet first. Most parks require that you go down the slides feet first and face up to protect your head and neck.
  • Obey the rules. Make sure to follow height restrictions and other specific rules, such as “No Diving,” as some pools may be shallower than they appear.
  • Locate lifeguards. As soon as you enter the water park, note where the lifeguard stands are located in case you need help.
  • Wear water shoes. Water parks can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Water shoes are your best form of protection from infection. Note: Water shoes are sometimes not permitted to be worn on certain attractions, so locate lockers or cubbies to hold shoes while you’re on those rides.

The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) also offers the following best practices for kids and adults:

  • Children under 48″, non-swimmers, and weak swimmers should wear a Coast Guard approved life vest while enjoying water park attractions. Bring your own if you are unsure of availability and fit.
  • Dress appropriately, including a hat and loose shirt for when you’ve had enough sun. Monitor how much sun children, especially toddlers, are exposed to.
  • Apply waterproof sunscreen throughout the day and drink plenty of fluids (avoid beverages with sweeteners or with caffeine).
  • Children in diapers should be dressed in waterproof swim diapers to minimize leakage. Change diapers only in designated changing areas.
  • Read the signs at every water park attraction and listen to all audio instructions provided by recordings or staff. Obey all rules and experience-level guidelines.
  • Follow the lifeguards’ instructions and signal them if you see someone in trouble. The buddy system is an excellent way to ensure no children are left alone.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) also recommends all swimmers be vigilant in following three basic guidelines to prevent disease transmission:

  • Do not swim if you have diarrhea. This is especially important for children in diapers.
  • Do not swallow the pool water. Try to avoid getting water in your mouth if possible.
  • Practice good hygiene and shower before swimming. Also, wash your hands thoroughly after using the toilet or changing diapers.