By Adrian Sparrow
When the sun is blazing overhead, a refreshing swim can be the cure to an otherwise scorching day. Lurking beneath the water’s surface is a tragedy that happens every day. Even worse, everybody is at risk, and even the strongest swimmers need to be safe in the water. It’s estimated that ten people drown every day. Drowning is the leading cause of death in children 1-4 and the second-leading cause of accidental injury-related death in children 14 and younger. The best way to prevent drowning is always to stay alert, prepare in advance and install safety measures before accidents happen.
Here are some tips for staying safe around water:
Physical fitness and medical conditions impact your swimming abilities, so be sure to know your limitations around water, even if you’re not planning on taking a dip. Swimming is a life skill everybody, kids AND adults, should have. The American Red Cross, YMCAs, and many other organizations offer swimming and CPR lessons. CPR is another critical life skill for water safety, as concussions and loss of consciousness can occur in the pool. Medical conditions can also be exacerbated or become dangerous around water.
No matter where you swim, be it the beach or pool or lake, always have constant adult supervision and swim with a buddy. Never leave children unattended. Pay close attention to children, even in shallow water or if a lifeguard is already present.
Put fences around home pools to prevent unsupervised access, and cover hot tubs when not in use. Add alarms on gates for extra security. Many home pool drownings happen when adults don’t expect children to be in the water or while the kids are supposed to be exiting the water after swim time. If a child is unaccounted for, look in the pool first- seconds matter. Children who drowned in home pools were usually out of sight for under 5 minutes.
Only swim in designated areas, and pay attention to signs posted about dangerous swimming conditions, especially at the beach or other natural bodies of water. Only swim during calm weather, and if you hear thunder or see lightning, exit the water. Keep the area around the pool clear of obstacles or toys. Don’t drink alcohol while boating, swimming, or supervising children in the water.
Not all drowning happens while swimming. Children can drown in shallow liquid, such as a bucket of water or during a bath. Take care to always supervise young children during bathtime and keep the bathroom doors closed when not in use. Empty or cover liquid-filled buckets and containers. Don’t leave containers outside where they can accumulate water.
Water safety is an essential lesson that can reduce tragic accidents and increase the chances of survival when taught as young as possible.