Although the temperatures have not reached summer peak, the opportunity for swimming is here. May has been designated as Water Safety Awareness month. While you are enjoying that refreshing and exhilarating activity, please keep in mind the responsibility and precautions needed to protect you and your family.
Swimming seems like a natural rite of passage in the summer. But, sadly, there are those who can’t swim or don’t understand the dangers and that sometimes ends in tragedy. Whether at a community pool, a backyard pool, a local lake or a country stream, swimming with friends and family is a way to make lasting memories; just mind the following:
First, learn and teach others to respect all bodies of water. The lack of swimming ability is the top reason for unintentional drownings.
Basic swimming lessons for those of age will provide a lifelong ability to enjoy and be safe. Infants as young as four months can be enrolled in early swim lessons. For those not of swimming age or who have not taken lessons, ensure supervision is constant.
Also, consider using the buddy system at all times. Always having someone with you when your swimming is a smart idea. They don’t need to be swimming but they should be present and have full attention on you in the event you need help in the water. Remember that pool lifeguards cannot give their full attention to each person in the pool, so having a buddy provides that extra security.
If you have a pool in your backyard, install a fence or barrier. In some cities and towns, this is a law so be sure to comply with your area. A 4-sided pool barrier reduces the risk of drowning by 83% over those with open access. While nothing can replace constant supervision, a fence goes a long way in the prevention of a horrible accident. It is suggested the fence be at least 4 feet tall to prevent climbing over and have latches that are out of reach of small children.
Installing an alarm on the gate is another great precaution.
Ensure you have and know how to use personal flotation devices (PFDs). In the event of an accident or emergency, a US Coast Guard approved device can be a lifesaving measure. Toys like rafts and floaties should never be considered an approved PFD.
Finally, avoid distractions. It is impossible to be a buddy or be in constant supervision if you are looking at your mobile phone or some other piece of technology. Just as in driving, a few seconds of distraction can mean the difference between fun and tragedy. Also, play music at a level that still allows you to hear the swimmer as much as possible.
Be vigilant and on guard—there is no time off when you are designated buddy or lifeguard.
No matter how much or how little, water can cause irreversible damage to those who may not know proper water safety technique. That should not be a deterrent to enjoying summer fun. But, it should be enough to ensure safety and precaution for all.
Treating water with the respect it deserves ensures that you and your family will get the most out of summer activities.