Water, Water Everywhere – Here’s How to Enjoy It While Avoiding Catastrophe

The July 4 vacation season took a tragic turn for several families recently, as eight drowning deaths were reported in Massachusetts the week of the holiday — in ponds, lakes, the beach, and at least one swimming pool.
Unfortunately, drownings are more common than many people think, with an average of 3,536 such deaths annually across the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Because swimming is the most popular summer activity, one of the best things families can do is enroll in age-appropriate swim lessons, the American Red Cross notes. In addition, the Red Cross offers the following tips for staying safe in and around water.
Make Water Safety Your Priority
• Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
• Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone. Even at a public pool or a lifeguarded beach, use the buddy system.
• Never leave a young child unattended near water, and do not trust a child’s life to another child; teach children to always ask permission to go near water.
• Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone.
• Establish rules for your family and enforce them without fail. For example, set limits based on each person’s ability, do not let anyone play around drains and suction fittings, and do not allow swimmers to hyperventilate before swimming underwater or have breath-holding contests.
• Even if you do not plan on swimming, be cautious around natural bodies or water, including ocean shoreline, rivers, and lakes. Cold temperatures, currents, and underwater hazards can make a fall into these bodies of water dangerous.
• If you go boating, wear a life jacket. Most boating fatalities occur from drowning.
• Avoid alcohol use. Alcohol impairs judgment, balance, and coordination; affects swimming and diving skills; and reduces the body’s ability to stay warm.
Prevent Unsupervised Access to the Water
• Install and use barriers around your home pool or hot tub. Safety covers and pool alarms should be added as additional layers of protection.
• Ensure that pool barriers enclose the entire pool area and are at least four feet high with gates that are self-closing, self-latching, and open outward and away from the pool. The latch should be high enough to be out of a small child’s reach.
• If you have an above-ground or inflatable pool, remove access ladders and secure the safety cover whenever the pool is not in use.
• Remove any structures that provide access to the pool, such as outdoor furniture, climbable trees, decorative walls, and playground equipment.
• Keep toys that are not in use away from the pool and out of sight. Toys can attract young children to the pool.
Maintain Constant Supervision
• Actively supervise kids whenever around the water — even if lifeguards are present. Do not just drop your kids off at the public pool or leave them at the beach — designate a responsible adult to supervise.
• Always stay within arm’s reach of young children and avoid distractions when supervising children around water.
Know What to Do in an Emergency
• If a child is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.
• Know how and when to call 911 or the local emergency number.
• If you own a home pool or hot tub, have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets, and a first aid kit.
• Enroll in Red Cross home pool safety, water safety, first aid, and CPR/AED courses to learn how to prevent and respond to sudden emergencies. 

Comments are closed.