My kids are near water a fair amount especially in the spring when water levels are high due to extra rain and snow melt. While playing near high water is good for me, it’s not necessarily the best place for aspiring rock skippers (aka, my kids). 

Being a kayaker I know first hand the power of water. I’ve learned (at times the hard way) to respect it, and I think this has made me more of a safety cop when my kids are around it.

If you’re going to be near rivers and streams here are a few things to consider in order to stay safe:

1. Water looks like it’s slower than it is.  Don’t be lured into thinking that a mild eddy near shore is a safe place to let your child play with little oversight. Moreover, understand that a child that falls into water that looks slow may be far from where he or she can be easily rescued faster than you think.

2. Even if your child knows how to swim they are no match for hypothermia. Spring water is cold, and the shock of cold can quickly erase from a child’s mind last summer’s swimming lessons.

3. No matter how stupid life jackets look, or no matter how much of a fuss your kids make when wearing them, they save lives!  Don’t think that because it is lunchtime on your sunny float down the local canal, that you can take them off. Note: I had my 2 year old son ‘practicing’ wearing his well before his first ‘river trip’.

4. Explain to your kids beforehand the risks associated with water. Set clear rules and boundaries.  Stick to them—show your children that you are serious when it comes to water.

5. Make sure you know where your kids are at all times. As parents, make a game plan beforehand; decide who will be watching whom and don’t, at any time during your turn as lifeguard, look at your cell phone.

Although bodies of water can be dangerous, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get out and enjoy some time along the river. Use it as an opportunity to introduce some water safety 101.


Lindsey blogs at, a blog for parents dedicated to taking full advantage of the experiences the natural world has to offer their family. When she's not blogging she's relaxing at Lake Tahoe, biking the Sierras before dawn or corralling her boys at the wetlands behind her house.


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