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Stay Safe Around Water This Summer

06-18-2019

Frederick Regional Health System wants you and your family to be safe this summer while in the water. While there’s nothing quite like a relaxing trip to the beach or a refreshing dip in the pool/lake on a hot summer day, it’s essential to know how to be safe in the water.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 5 people who die from drowning are children age 14 or younger. And for every child who dies from drowning, another 5 receive emergency care for nonfatal swimming injuries.

Drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury death in the U.S.—and it only takes a moment for a child or weak swimmer to lose control and make a mistake that could cost their life. That’s why it’s important to stay safe in the water, especially during summer when we’re spending more time around pools, oceans, and other large bodies of water.

Make Water Safety a Priority

According to the American Red Cross, there are certain things that you should know about water safety:

  • Always take a buddy with you when you swim. Tell a friend, parent, or trustworthy adult before you go into the water. Parents and adults—maintain constant supervision of your children when they’re in the water.
  • Avoid alcohol when swimming.
  • Consider age-appropriate Red Cross swimming classes to ensure your family knows how to swim. Here are a few classes near us.
  • Drink plenty of water, even if you’re not thirsty. You’d be surprised how dehydrated you become in the heat, even when you’re in the water.
  • If you get caught in a current, don’t panic or try to fight it. Float with it, or swim parallel to the shore.
  • If you’re swimming in a public body of water like a lake or a beach, make sure a lifeguard is present at all times.
  • Install barriers and use safety covers on your home pool or hot tub, especially with young children or non-swimmers in the house. Many children who drown in home pools were only out of sight for less than five minutes and in the care of both parents.
  • Learn CPR and other rescue techniques so you’re prepared in case of an emergency.
  • Make sure you’re comfortable with the body of water you’re swimming in. More strength is needed to swim in a lake or a river where there are currents.
  • Never dive into an area you’re unfamiliar with, as you never know how deep or shallow it can be.
  • Never push or jump on others.
  • Protect your skin, especially during peak sunlight hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.), by wearing sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. Reapply every two hours, especially if you’ve been in and out of the water.
  • Stay out of the water, unless you know how to swim. Eager to learn? Swim lessons and water safety classes aren’t just for kids! They’re available to all ages.

Keep Kids Safe This Summer

Although there are dangers when a person of any age swims, children and babies face the highest risk of all and need the most supervision. We recommend designating a “water watcher” who will pay close attention to all swimmers. Follow these precautions to keep your child safe around water:

  • Always have a fire aid kit and emergency contacts (including names and numbers) nearby.
  • Don’t allow your child to play around drains or suction fittings.
  • Don’t assume that a river or a lake isn’t dangerous. Both can have undertows or be deeper than you think.
  • Don’t assume that lifeguards can see everything. Keep an eye on your child even when a lifeguard is on duty.
  • Find age-appropriate swimming lessons for your child, but know the same safety precautions apply to children who know how to swim. Lessons do not make your child “drown-proof.”
  • Learn CPR, and always remain within arm’s length of your child, providing “touch supervision.”
  • Make sure your child is wearing a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket on a boat, and never consume alcohol if you’re the one operating a boat.
  • Never leave your child alone in or near the water.

For most children, the majority of their swimming will take place in a pool. While the water may be rougher in the ocean, it’s important to remain careful when swimming in a pool as well.

Home Swimming & Pool Safety

Each year, millions escape the summer heat by swimming and relaxing in their backyard pool or a friend or neighbor’s pool. Unfortunately, many people often disregard useful swimming pool safety tips, which could prevent hundreds of injuries and drowning accidents. Check out these tips on enjoying the pool safely all summer long:

  • Children should always be supervised. Stay close to children at all times when in or around a swimming pool.
  • Ensure all family members know how to swim and understand proper swimming pool safety.
  • Establish pool safety rules with your family and enforce them: no diving, no running, and swim with a buddy, for example.
  • Keep your swimming pool or hot tub clean by maintaining appropriate chemical levels, circulation, and filtration.
  • Practice pool emergencies and how to handle them with CPR and other aquatic safety techniques through the Red Cross.
  • Secure your pool with appropriate barriers at least 4-feet tall and include a self-latching and locking gate. For added safety, install a pool alarm that triggers each time the gate opens.

On the Water Advice

It doesn’t matter if you find yourself boating or swimming in a body of open water. The most important swimming rule to remember is you need to be with another person at all times. Follow these additional boating and open water safety tips to prevent injuries and accidents:

  • Boating under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or some prescription medications is always dangerous, even as a passenger.
  • Don’t allow your child to dive into the water unless you’re sure of the water’s and you’ve checked for underwater objects.
  • Have your children wear life jackets at all times when on a boat, dock, or near a body of water. Adults should wear life jackets for their own protection and to set a good example. Make sure the life jacket is the right size for your child and is not too loose.
  • Help your child understand that swimming at home in a pool is not the same as swimming in other bodies of water. Teach them to tread water, float, and stay close to the shore.
  • While in a lake, an ocean, or a river, the ground may be uneven or slippery. Make sure you’re near your child in case they slip or struggle in the water and help them understand how different types of precautions should be taken in these types of water.
  • Make sure that lifeguards are watching children at all times.
  • Make sure that your child understands the dangers of rip currents. If you are caught in a current, swim parallel to the shore until you escape the current, and then swim back to shore.
  • Never allow your child to swim in canals or any fast-moving water.

Swim Safely All Summer Long

Swimming is a fantastic summer activity that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Just because you’re taking extra precautions for safety doesn’t mean that swimming can’t be fun. In fact, the safer you are while in the water, the better your experience will be. Frederick Regional Health System wishes you and your family a safe, fun summer in the sun!

For more information on staying safe in or around the water this summer, check out the American Red Cross for more tips and training courses, or contact one of our doctors today.

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