Are you ready?
Summer is here and after being cooped up all winter, it is time to lather up the sunscreen and cool off in the water. As inviting as this sounds, the importance of water safety is not the first thing you usually think about when getting ready for summertime fun. Every year there are numerous tragic accidents because people aren’t prepared.
Did you know that someone can drown in as little as an inch of water and in under two minutes? This is why it is imperative that when around water everyone is actively involved in staying safe. The most important things you can do are very simple. Never swim alone—always have a buddy. Never leave children unsupervised, do not leave a child in charge of another child and teach children to ask for permission before getting into any body of water. Teaching children to swim at a young age and making sure that a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket is used for children who are too young to know how to swim (this does not mean that you do not supervise them) are imperative to ensuring their safety.
If you have a pool in your yard, you are probably the most popular house in your neighborhood. Not only do you get to enjoy your pool, but is it also needs to be safe all of the time. One of the most important things you can do is to ensure that there are appropriate barriers, such as a four foot high fence (or higher if required by local ordinance or code) that has a self-closing and self-locking gate. Also, pool alarms are excellent at alerting you if someone enters the pool and shouldn’t be (just make sure that if it’s battery operated to keep the batteries replaced accordingly). Another key safety tool is to have rules that are regularly enforced with children and their friends. Make sure that they know, “no diving,” “swim with a buddy,” “walk around the pool deck” and “stay away from drain covers.” It is important to walk when around a pool because if someone slips and hits their head before falling into the pool, they could very easily become unconscious and drown. Drains create a suction vacuum that can pull small children toward it causing them to become stuck.
You get to make sandcastles and play in the surf, life at the beach doesn’t get much better. However, the beach comes with its own set of safety concerns. You should only swim in lifeguard-protected areas (especially if you don’t go to the beach often). Sometimes the surf can be rough and effortlessly knock small children and elderly folks to the ground causing them to get trapped under the surface. It is imperative to pay attention to weather because storms can appear suddenly and you do not want to be caught in the water when there is a possibility of lightning. Don’t dive head first because the depth of the water can change even in the space of just a few feet. Stay away from aquatic plants and animals as they could potentially be dangerous. If you swim away from shore, turn around before you get tired in order to guarantee that you’ll make it back. Be on the lookout for rip currents, which is a current that is formed by a large amount of water being forced to move through a small area (the water is usually rougher in this area as it is being funneled through the small channel that is created). This can often occur if there is a low spot in sand underneath the water or breaks in a sandbar. It is also seen near jetties or piers, which is why it is a good idea to stay 100 feet away from them. You will know if you are caught in a rip current because you will feel this strong force pulling you out to sea. The vital thing to remember is to not panic! Stay calm and try to swim parallel to shore until you don’t feel the pulling sensation and then swim in. If you can’t swim, tread water or float until you are free of the current and then swim toward shore. If at any time you don’t think that you can make it to shore, wave and call for help.
This might scare you into thinking that you aren’t ever going to go near the water, but really it is just common sense. The important thing is to be aware of your surroundings, keep an eye on others, and take the proper precautions. Doing all of these things will make certain that you stay safe while you have fun!