Summertime Swimming Fun
Are you ready for summertime fun? My family certainly loves the warm months when we can swim and play outside without bundling up. Before you go to the pool this year, put water safety at the top of your list. Before you find yourself poolside, lakeside, or beachside, there are a few safety strategies you can easily follow to keep yourself and your family safe.
Swimming is an excellent way to keep our kids active and outside. But on these fun-filled days on the water, the danger of drowning is ever present.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 4,000 people drown in the United States each year. Unfortunately, drowning kills more children 1 to 4 years of age than anything else except birth defects. Among children 1 to 14 years of age, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death (after motor vehicle crashes). For every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal drowning.
Tragically, drowning can happen quickly and quietly, without a call for help or splashing about. The majority of child drownings occur in backyard pools or spas. However, even small plastic wading pools, irrigation ditches, storm drains, small streams, and buckets of water can pose a threat to young children. So these tips are good to know all year round.
Lifesaving Drowning Prevention Tips
All of these following tips serve as great reminders for us all. Your family members, caregivers, friends, or neighbors who spend time with your children will welcome any information which will keep your children safe.
Has your child taken swimming lessons? Whether or not she has, the risk of drowning is still very real. Educate those who care for your child during the summer on the drowning precautions your child needs. Especially if they haven’t taken them swimming before or are unaware of their swimming abilities. Often, kids love to push their limits and swim without safety flotation devices such as a life jacket. Make sure whoever is with your child understand whether or not it’s okay for your child to swim without a puddle jumper or life vest.
Swimming lessons aren’t only for kids. Swimming is unique because it’s the only sport that can save lives. One of the best things you can do to ensure your family’s safety is to teach them to swim. And if you do not feel confident enough to teach them on your own, enroll them in age appropriate lessons. If you aren’t confident that you could could well enough to reach your child and rescue her in a drowning situation, then enroll yourself in swimming lessons as well. Parents are typically a child’s hope for timely rescue.
All adults and children should be able to swim at even a basic level for their own safety. Additionally, all parents and caregivers should learn and practice basic survival swimming and rescue skills, know CPR, and have life-saving equipment like life-saving rings or a shepherd’s hook poolside. CPR certification should be refreshed every one to two years. You never know when you may have to use those skills or equipment to save someone’s life.
Water Safety Golden Rules
Basic situational awareness can save lives. Understand the risks and be prepared. Be present, alert, and aware at all times. Always know where your children are.
Never leave children alone near water—pools, spas, lakes, rivers, bathtubs, canals or the ocean—even when a lifeguard is present. Even for a moment.
Flotation devices are not a substitute for adult supervision. Inflatables water rings, rafts, water wings or floaties, and other pool toys are not safety devices. Only U.S. Coast Guard approved life jackets are designed and tested for safety.
The Golden Rules include:
- Always swim with a buddy.
- Always decide which adult will be watching out for which child.
- Never leave a child under the supervision of another child.
- If your child is missing, always check water first if there is a pool, pond, or lake nearby because every second counts.
- When a young, non-swimmer is in the water, an adult should always be within arm’s length.
- Put cell phones away.
Develop and enforce water safety rules with your kids, such as no running, no diving, and always swim with a buddy. Teach your kids to always ask for permission to go near the water. Make a point of discussing safe swim behavior with your teenagers and the risks of swimming and diving in unfamiliar waters, and the dangers of alcohol or drug use while participating in water sports.
Preventing Access to Water
If you own a pool or hot tub, focus on preventing unsupervised access to it. Make sure it is secured with appropriate barriers and the entire pool area is completely enclosed. Pool gates should be self-closing and self-latching. Latches should be high enough to be out of a young child’s reach. Pools and hot tub safety covers should be properly used, maintained, and locked when not in use. Be sure to keep all pets and kids off of safety covers, too.
Remove any structures that children can climb to gain access to the pool, like playground equipment or outdoor furniture. Do not store toys next to a pool or hot tub as they attract young children.
If your pool is an inflatable or above-ground, remove ladders to prevent access and use a safety cover whenever it’s not in use.
Other Safety Concerns
Drowning isn’t the only safety concern as you enjoy the water. Remember being safe also includes wearing sunscreen or sun block to prevent burns and drinking plenty of fluids. Prevent muscle fatigue by taking swimming breaks. Use those moments to eat a small snack and drink water, dry off and apply more sunscreen. If your child has severe allergies, remember to bring your epi pens with you.
When you’re having fun in the sun, it’s so easy to lose track of time. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to apply more sun block or drink more water. Self-case is also an important part of preventing injury and staying safe: Don’t forget to take care of yourself, too.
Share This with a Friend
May is National Drowning Prevention Month. Sadly, it historically marks the season of drowning tragedies and serves as a poignant reminder for us all to focus on water safety education and drowning prevention for our families. Pass this article along to help those you love stay safe this summer.