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Keep Your Summer Fun with Water Safety

swimming and water safety

It’s time for summertime fun and staying cool in the water. Learn these water safety tips.

First test your water smarts with this mini-quiz*:

  1. How many people drown every day in the U.S.?
  2. How many are old enough to know better?
  3. What percentage are men?

(Check how you did)

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No matter which of my jobs you look at – a physical education and health studies professor, an instructor trainer for lifeguarding and swimming, or a mom – I know that when good times aren’t safe times, it can take all the fun out of a getaway.

Just the facts

Among those ages 1-14, fatal drowning remains the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death behind motor vehicle crashes.

  • Children 1 – 4 years old are more likely to drown in a pool.
  • Children 5 years and older are more likely to drown in natural water, such as ponds, lakes and rivers.
  • The risk of drowning in open water increases with age: The average 10-year-old, for example, is three times more likely to drown in open water than in a pool.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that nearly 400 pool and spa drownings occur each year in the United States that involve children younger than 15 years old, with more than 75 percent involving children younger than 5. Most of these fatalities occur at a residence.

Water safety tips

That’s why it’s so important to get your rubber ducks in a row with these water safety tips from the Red Cross before you head to the lake, ocean, pool or waterpark this summer:

  • The Biggie. Always swim in a place with a lifeguard. They’re the professionals. You’re not. ‘Nuff said.
  • Parents, You’re Up. If there are no professional lifeguards, designate a water watcher every single time children are in or near the water.
    • reminds us, “An adult should actively watch children at all times while they are in a pool. For infants and toddlers, an adult should be in the water and within arm’s reach, providing ‘touch supervision.’
    • “For older children, an adult should be paying constant attention and free from distractions, like talking on the phone, socializing, tending household chores, or drinking alcohol. The supervising adult must know how to swim.”
    • Be sure you and other caregivers know what drowning looks like.
  • Buddy Up. Even at supervised pools and parks, always go with at least one other person – preferably one who can swim – and check on each other during the splashy fun.
  • Enroll Before You Go.
    • Teaching our children how to swim is one of the most important things we can do to help prevent children drownings. It’s also an important survival skill that they get to keep throughout their lives. Be sure your child knows the five critical steps of water competency:
      1. step or jump into water over their heads and return to the surface;
      2. float or tread water for one minute;
      3. turn around in a full circle and find an exit;
      4. swim 25 yards to exit the water; and
      5. exit the water. If in a pool, be able to exit without using the ladder
    • And parents, take a Red Cross First Aid/CPR/AED class so you’re ready for fun as well as the unexpected.
  • Tools Not Toys. Air and foam-filled flotation toys are no substitute for Coast Guard-approved life jackets or other water-safety devices; don’t expect them to keep you or your child afloat in an emergency.
  • Fun Not Fatal. Steer clear of breath-holding or hyper-ventilation (fast shallow breathing) games while swimming. It doesn’t take much to pass out and go under.
  • If the Thunder Roars, Get Indoors. Whether you’re at an outdoor or an indoor pool, keep an eye on the weather. Head to dry shelter away from water before lightning strikes and stay there until 30 minutes after the last sight and sound of lightning and thunder.
  • Don’t Drink and Dive. Nearly 70% of water-related deaths among teens and adults involve alcohol. Save the toasts until after the pool or waterpark.  Remember: alcohol affects your judgment and coordination. High temperatures and a hot sun up the ante.
  • Too Much Sun Is No Fun. Water plus sun equals burns – use that sunscreen. And when the heat is on, be sure to stay adequately hydrated with plenty of fresh water.
  • Pool specific. Ensure that all pools have a proper fence, gate and safe drain covers.
* Mini-quiz Answers
  1. About ten people a day die from unintentional drownings.
  2. Eighty percent of drownings are of people 14 years and older.
  3. Nearly 80% of drownings are males.

Download SafeKids’ pool safety poster with reminders and 5 must-have survival skills.

Guest post: Angela Beale is a certified lifeguard, Red Cross instructor trainer for Lifeguarding and Learn-to-Swim, and Adjunct Professor of the Department of Kinesiology at West Chester University of Pennsylvania. And Amie Durocher, Creative Director at Safe Ride 4 Kids and certified CPS Tech since 2004

Copyright 2019 Safe Ride 4 Kids. All rights reserved. You may not publish, broadcast, rewrite or redistribute this material without permission. You are welcome to link to Safe Ride 4 Kids or share on social media.

We originally published this post in June 2014. We updated the article for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Did you know any of the answers to the mini quiz? What is your number one water safety tip?
© amie durocher

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