Nothing beats being at the pool, lake, river or beach on a hot day. Safety is key when it comes to preventing drownings and injuries in and around the water. Drowning is the fifth leading cause of unintentional injury death for people of all ages, and the second leading cause of injury death for children ages 1– 14.
Remember these tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) next time you head to the water:
- Supervise when in or around water. Designate a responsible adult to watch young children while in the bath and all children swimming or playing in or around water. Supervisors of preschool children should be close enough to reach the child at all times. Because drowning occurs quickly and quietly, adults should not be involved in any other distracting activity (such as reading, playing cards, talking on the phone or mowing the lawn) while supervising children, even if lifeguards are present.
- Use the buddy system. Always swim with a buddy. Select swimming sites that have lifeguards when possible.
- Learn to swim. Formal swimming lessons can protect young children from drowning. However, even when children have had formal swimming lessons, constant, careful supervision when children are in the water, and barriers, such as pool fencing to prevent unsupervised access, are still important.
- Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). In the time it takes for paramedics to arrive, your CPR skills could save someone’s life.
- Air-filled or foam toys are not safety devices. Don’t use air-filled or foam toys, such as “water wings”, “noodles” or innertubes, instead of life jackets. These toys are not life jackets and are not designed to keep swimmers safe.
- Avoid alcohol. Avoid drinking alcohol before or during swimming, boating or water skiing. Do not drink alcohol while supervising children.
- Don’t let swimmers hyperventilate before swimming underwater or try to hold their breath for long periods of time. This can cause them to pass out (sometimes called “hypoxic blackout” or “shallow water blackout”) and drown.
- Know the local weather conditions and forecast before swimming or boating. Strong winds and thunderstorms with lightning strikes are dangerous.
If you have a swimming pool at home:
- Install four-sided fencing. Install a four-sided pool fence that completely separates the pool area from the house and yard. The fence should be at least 4 feet high. Use self-closing and self-latching gates that open outward with latches that are out of reach of children. Also, consider additional barriers such as automatic door locks and alarms to prevent access or alert you if someone enters the pool area.
- Clear the pool and deck of toys. Remove floats, balls and other toys from the pool and surrounding area immediately after use so children are not tempted to enter the pool area unsupervised.
If you are in and around natural water settings:
- Use U.S. Coast Guard approved life jackets. This is important regardless of the distance to be traveled, the size of the boat or the swimming ability of boaters. Life jackets can reduce risk for weaker swimmers too.
- Know the meaning of and obey warnings represented by colored beach flags. These may vary from one beach to another.
- Watch for dangerous waves and signs of rip currents. Some example, water that is discolored and choppy, foamy, or filled with debris and moving in a channel away from shore.
- If you are caught in a rip current, swim parallel to shore. Once free of the current, swim diagonally toward shore.
- National Drowning Prevention Alliance Resource Center
- Boating safety (National Safety Council)
- Alcohol and boating (BoatUS Foundation)
- Life jackets are for everyone
- Beach safety (American Red Cross)
- Swimming safety tips (SafeKids Worldwide)
- Infant water safety (healthychildren.org)
- Bathroom water safety (KidsHealth)