Summer is just around the corner. That means hot weather, blue skies and open swimming pools.
In order to have a safe – and fun – summer, the American Red Cross encourages you to brush up on water safety skills.
According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on water-related injuries, the drowning rate in the United States averages 10 people per day, with a quarter of fatal drownings involving children 14 and younger.
This is why Red Cross recommends swimming in areas supervised by a lifeguard. If no lifeguard is on duty, designate an adult as a “water watcher” who maintains constant supervision of children around any water no matter how well they can swim or how shallow the water.
A 2009 Red Cross survey found that nearly one in three parents (30 percent) believe that “floaties” are better than supervision. The Red Cross stresses that floaties cannot be used as a substitute for appropriate supervision.
Keep your family safe with these few simple tips:
- Learn to swim well. Contact Richard.Rash@redcross.org for information on learning how to swim—nearly 2 million people learn to swim each year with Red Cross programs.
- Never leave children unattended near water — not even for a moment! Adults should practice “reach supervision,” which means to always be within arm’s length when a young child is near water. For older children – even adults – who are not strong swimmers, practice “active” or constant supervision and make sure they wear U.S. Coast Guard approved personal flotation devices (PFDs).
- Know how to respond to an emergency. You should know how to tell if a swimmer is in distress or is drowning and how and when to call for emergency help. You should also learn how to help someone in trouble in water while keeping safe yourself. Do not create a situation where you become a victim as well! Enroll in Red Cross water safety, first aid and CPR courses to learn what to do.
- Keep lifesaving gear handy. If you own a pool: always have on hand a ring buoy, life jacket, rope, pole or other object that can be used to help a person in trouble. Remember to have a first aid kit, cordless phone and emergency contact information by the pool.
- Know when it’s too dangerous. If you, or someone you are swimming with, appear to be too cold, too far from safety, been exposed to too much sun, or had too much strenuous activity, it is time to head for shore or signal for help.
- Eliminate temptation. Backyard pools should have self-closing, self-latching gates that remain locked when the pool is not being used. Kiddie pools should be emptied and toys removed immediately after use. Empty water buckets so small children cannot fall in and drown.
- Know what you’re getting into. Check local tides, currents and other conditions which could be dangerous before entering open bodies of water.
For more information on Red Cross Learn to Swim, water safety, first aid and CPR classes near you contact Richard.Rash@redcross.org.