Water Safety Tips
Swimming & many other water related sports are a great way to have fun & also beat the summer heat! But it is important to make water safety a priority to protect our children and many others when participating in and around the water activities. According to the Center for disease Control and Prevention, drowning is a leading cause of injury death for young children ages 1 to 4, and the fifth leading cause of unintentional injury death for people of all ages. For toddlers (children ages 1 to 4 years), swimming pools pose the greatest risk of submersion injury. Parents and families can build on their current safety systems at pools and spas by adopting additional water safety steps. Adding as many proven water safety steps as possible is the best way to assure a safe and fun experience, because you can never know which one might save a child’s life—until it does. Visit our Water Safety Blog for more!
[Tips From Center For Disease Control And Prevention]
- Supervise When in or Around Water. Designate a responsible adult to watch young children while in the bath and all children swimming or playing in or around water. Supervisors of preschool children should provide “touch supervision”, be close enough to reach the child at all times. Because drowning occurs quickly and quietly, adults should not be involved in any other distracting activity (such as reading, playing cards, talking on the phone, or mowing the lawn) while supervising children, even if lifeguards are present.
- Use the Buddy System. Always swim with a buddy. Select swimming sites that have lifeguards when possible.
- Seizure Disorder Safety. If you or a family member has a seizure disorder, provide one-on-one supervision around water, including swimming pools. Consider taking showers rather than using a bath tub for bathing. Wear life jackets when boating.
- Learn to Swim. Formal swimming lessons can protect young children from drowning. However, even when children have had formal swimming lessons, constant, careful supervision when children are in the water, and barriers, such as pool fencing to prevent unsupervised access, are still important.
- Learn Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). In the time it takes for paramedics to arrive, your CPR skills could save someone’s life.
- Air-Filled or Foam Toys are not safety devices. Don’t use air-filled or foam toys, such as “water wings”, “noodles”, or inner-tubes, instead of life jackets. These toys are not life jackets and are not designed to keep swimmers safe.
- Avoid Alcohol. Avoid drinking alcohol before or during swimming, boating, or water skiing. Do not drink alcohol while supervising children.
- Don’t let swimmers hyperventilate before swimming underwater or try to hold their breath for long periods of time. This can cause them to pass out (sometimes called “shallow water blackout”) and drown.
- Know how to prevent recreational water illnesses.
- Know the local weather conditions and forecast before swimming or boating. Strong winds and thunderstorms with lightning strikes are dangerous.
If you have a swimming pool at home:
- Install Four-Sided Fencing. Install a four-sided pool fence that completely separates the pool area from the house and yard. The fence should be at least 4 feet high. Use self-closing and self-latching gates that open outward with latches that are out of reach of children. Also, consider additional barriers such as automatic door locks and alarms to prevent access or alert you if someone enters the pool area.
- Clear the Pool and Deck of Toys. Remove floats, balls and other toys from the pool and surrounding area immediately after use so children are not tempted to enter the pool area unsupervised.
If you are in and around natural water settings:
- Use U.S. Coast Guard approved life jackets. This is important regardless of the distance to be traveled, the size of the boat, or the swimming ability of boaters; life jackets can reduce risk for weaker swimmers too.
- Know the meaning of and obey warnings represented by colored beach flags. These may vary from one beach to another.
- Watch for dangerous waves and signs of rip currents. Some examples arewater that is discolored and choppy, foamy, or filled with debris and moving in a channel away from shore.
- If you are caught in a rip current, swim parallel to shore. Once free of the current, swim diagonally toward shore.
[Tips from PoolSafely Campaign]
Staying Close, Being Alert and Watching Children in and Around the Pool
- Never leave a child unattended in a pool or spa and always watch your child when he or she is in or near water
- Teach children basic water safety tips
- Keep children away from pool drains, pipes and other openings to avoid entrapments
- Have a telephone close by when you or your family is using a pool or spa
- If a child is missing, look for him or her in the pool or spa first
- Share safety instructions with family, friends and neighbors
Learning and Practicing Water Safety Skills
- Learn how to swim and teach your child how to swim
- Learn to perform CPR on children and adults, and update those skills regularly
- Understand the basics of life-saving so that you can assist in a pool emergency
Having the Appropriate Equipment for Your Pool or Spa
- Install a four-foot or taller fence around the pool and spa and use self-closing and self-latching gates; ask your neighbors to do the same at their pools.
- Install and use a lockable safety cover on your spa.
- If your house serves as a fourth side of a fence around a pool, install door alarms and always use them. For additional protection, install window guards on windows facing pools or spas.
- Install pool and gate alarms to alert you when children go near the water
- Ensure any pool and spa you use has compliant drain covers, and ask your pool service provider if you do not know
- Maintain pool and spa covers in good working order
- Consider using a surface wave or underwater alarm
[Tips from International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF)]
- Teach children water safety and swimming skills as early as possible.
- Always brief babysitters on water safety, emphasizing the need for constant supervision.
- Appoint a “designated watcher” to monitor children during social gatherings at or near pools.
- Equip doors and windows that exit to a pool area with alarms.
- Install a poolside phone, preferably a cordless model, with emergency numbers programmed into speed-dial.
- Post CPR instructions and learn the procedures.
- Keep rescue equipment poolside. Don’t wait for the paramedics to arrive because you will lose valuable life-saving seconds. Four to six minutes without oxygen can cause permanent brain damage or death.
- Keep a first aid kit at poolside.
- Install four-sided isolation fencing, at least five feet high, equipped with self-closing and self-latching gates, that completely surrounds the pool and prevents direct access from the house and yard.
- Maintain constant visual contact with children in a pool or pool area. If a child is missing, check the pool first; seconds count in preventing death or disability.
- Don’t use flotation devices as a substitute for supervision. Never allow a young child in a pool without an adult.
- Don’t leave objects such as toys that might attract a child in the pool and pool area.
- Never prop the gate to a pool area open.
- Don’t rely on swimming lessons, life preservers, or other equipment to make a child “water safe.”
- Never assume someone else is watching a child in a pool area.
- Don’t leave chairs or other items of furniture where a child could use them to climb into a fenced pool area.
- Don’t think you’ll hear a child who’s in trouble in the water; child drowning is a silent death, with no splashing to alert anyone that the child is in trouble
References: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Wide-ranging OnLine Data for Epidemiologic Research (WONDER) [online]. (2010) Available from URL: http://wonder.cdc.gov/mortsql.html