Each year as school is ending, the spring buds bloom on plants and trees, and temperatures heat up, we look to our beautiful bodies of water as a refreshing way to cool off and decompress. What a wonderful time!
Nothing beats a hot summer day lounging pool side with a good book or relaxing on the beach with family. Many of us have this idyllic picture in our head and look forward to the ability to spend a little bit of time by the water.
What often is overlooked, however, are the dangers water presents. An alarming number of drownings happen every year throughout the country in lakes, rivers, canals, and swimming pools.
Home swimming pools, while a beautiful feature to a house, are one of the riskiest amenities people have in their home. Drowning is the second leading cause of death for children from the ages of 5-14 years old and the leading cause of death for children 1-4. One significant danger of swimming pools is their attractive nature. Children are often drawn into them, unprepared, sometimes with devastating results.
But there is good news! We can keep our children safe with just a few easy steps. For home pool owners, create a system to prevent unwanted access into the swimming pool through fencing, gates, alarm systems and education. Teaching children appropriate times to go into the pool, or stay out, is our biggest defense against tragedy.
For anyone looking to spend a relaxing day on the beach by the lake, keep in mind the temperature of the water. Many times, people do not realize how cold our mountain lakes are even in the middle of summer, and the shock associated with entering such cold water can easily cause panic and lead to drowning.
The three most important things you can do to keep you and your family safe are:
• Never Swim Alone;
• Always have adult supervision whenever a child is in a body of water; and
• Prepare yourself with swimming lessons and lifejackets for non-swimmers.
Every year there are stories of incredible athletes who end up drowning. In every case where a medical emergency, such as a heart attack, was not the cause of death, it was because they were swimming alone. Even if you are a strong swimmer, fatigue and the elements can create dangerous situations. Always swim with a buddy!
Something that causes me great anxiety is seeing young children frolicking in the waves while mom and dad have their head buried in their cell phone, or their back turned to the water. If there are children in the water, your eyes should be watching them, even if they have a lifejacket, even if they are good swimmers.
For young children, those under 4 years old, you should always have an adult within arm’s reach. This simple step can significantly reduce the number of drownings nationwide. Most importantly, it can prevent your child from drowning.
Take any non-swimmers in your family down to the local swimming pool and enroll them in swimming lessons, or go through some water safety basics with them yourself. Something as simple as teaching a young child to stand up in shallow water can save a life. Follow the U.S. Coast Guard guidelines for lifejackets. Whenever you are on a watercraft of any sort, wear a lifejacket. For any non-swimmers who are swimming, wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket.
Follow these simple tips to help keep you and your family safe and avoid tragedy this year. The world of aquatics is a wonderful place to play, recreate, and relax but, if not done safely it can become quite the opposite. Please have a wonderful summer and get out on the water by boat or beach or pool or river. Have fun and explore, but do so while treating the water with a cautious amount of respect and preparation.