Summer wouldn’t be summer without spending time at the pool, lake or your other favorite swimming hole. On sweltering days, little is more refreshing that taking a dip in the water. Before you dive in, it is important to know water safety and become skilled in life-saving practices.
According to Centers for Disease Control, there were an average of 3,533 fatal unintentional drownings (non-boating related) annually 2005-2009 in the United States — about ten deaths per day.
In the U.S., drowning is the second leading cause of cause of unintentional injury-related death behind motor vehicle crashes with the majority of those deaths occurring in residential pools and is the seventh leading cause of unintentional injury death for all ages.
Many deaths from drowning are preventable by knowing and following safety rules for swimming.
Patch has put together ten things you need to know before swimming in pools and natural bodies of water.
Top 10 water safety tips:
- Learn to swim.
Swim classes are available for children as young as six months up to adults. The earlier a child learns to swim the more proficient he/she will become. It is never too late to learn to swim.
- Learn CPR and basic first aid.
Adults should learn CPR, especially those who are parents or who are caregivers for children. Knowing those life-saving skills could make the difference in life or death.
- Always Supervise Children around water.
Never leave children unsupervised by an adult. Drowning can happen quickly and silently in as little as 2 inches of water. The CDC reports that most accidental drowning that occurred of children ages 1-4 were in residential pools. Of those, most reported that an adult had seen the young victim within the home less than five minutes prior to the drowning. Adults should stay alert while supervising children and should never turn away or become distracted. Children should never be responsible for supervising other children in or around water.
- Swim only when a lifeguard is on duty.
When swimming in places other than a residential pool, swim only when a lifeguard is on duty. Parents should carefully supervise their children even when a lifeguard is present.
- Do not swim under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The effects of either or both can seriously impair judgment and coordination, which increases the risk of injury or drowning regardless of skill level.
- Do not swim alone.
Always swim with a buddy. Accidents happen. Regardless of skill level, don’t be tempted to swim alone in the pool at home or other bodies of water.
- Do not swim during thunderstorms.
You are already wet so what’s the big deal, right? Wrong. Never swim during thunderstorms. Always follow the lifeguard’s instructions for exiting the pool. If swimming in an area without a lifeguard, exit the water immediately if you hear thunder or see lightening. Water conducts electricity and lightening often strikes water.
- Do not dive headfirst into uncertain waters.
If the water is murky or of uncertain depth, never dive headfirst. Diving in shallow water or murky water can cause serious injury or death. Rocks and other objects in natural bodies of water pose serious hazards. Entering feet first is a safer approach in the water.
- Use proper flotation devices.
Life jackets and life preserves approved by the U.S. Coast Guard should be used rather than inflatable toys, rafts, air mattresses or arm floats. Children and adults who do not swim well should always wear an approved life jacket while in the water.
- Install fencing around your residential pool.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends fencing that is at least four feet high on all four sides with self-closing, self-latching gates. Latches should not be reachable by children and should open outwardly.