During the summer most families hang out at the pool or the beach on a hot day to beat the heat. But, before you dive in, learning about water safety is key!
Buddy up! Always swim with a partner every time you’re in a backyard pool or any body of water. Even experienced swimmers can become tired or get muscle cramps, which can make it very hard to get out of water. When people swim together, they can help each other or get help in an emergency.
Get skilled! It’s good to be prepared and to know how to swim. Its never too late to learn! Learning life-saving skills, such as CPR and rescue techniques, can help save a life!
Know your limits! If you are a beginner swimmer don’t go in water thats so deep you cant touch the bottom and don’t try to keep up with skilled swimmers! If you are good swimmer and have had lessons, keep an eye on friends who aren’t as comfortable or as skilled in the water as you are. If it seems like they’re getting tired or a little uneasy, suggest taking a break from swimming for a while.
Swim in safe areas only! Its always best to swim in places that are supervised by a lifeguard. No one can anticipate changing ocean currents, rip currents, sudden storms, or other hidden dangers. If something does go wrong, lifeguards are trained in rescue techniques.
Swimming in an open body of water like a lake, river or ocean is different from swimming in a pool. You need more energy to handle the currents and other changing conditions in the open water. Strongly consider wearing a Coast Guard approved flotation device.
If you find yourself caught in a rip current, don’t panic and don’t fight the current. Try to swim parallel to the shore until you can get out of the current. Gradually try to make it back to shore as you do so. If you cant swim away from the current, stay calm and float with it. The current will usually slow down and when it does you can swim to shore.
Even a very good swimmer who tries to swim against a strong current will get worn out. If you’ll be swimming in an open body of water, its a great idea to take swimming lessons!
Be careful about diving! Diving injuries cause head injury or even permanent spinal cord damage. Protect yourself by only diving in area known to be safe, such as a supervised deep end of the pool. If an area has “No Diving” or “No Swimming” signs, pay attention to them.
A “No Diving” sign means the water isn’t safe for a head-first entry. Even if you plan to jump in feet first, check the waters depth before you leap in. Also, be sure to check for hazards and be cautious in lakes or cloudy watered areas because most hazards will be hard to detect.
Watch the sun! Sun reflecting off the water or the sand can intensify the burning rays. You might not feel sunburned when the water feels cool and refreshing, but the pain will catch up with you later. Remember to reapply sunscreen often and don’t forget your hat!
Drink plenty of liquids! Its easy to get dehydrated in the sun, particularly if you’re active and sweating. Keep up with fluids like water to prevent dehydration. Dizziness, feeling lightheaded, or nausea can be a sign of dehydration and overheating.
Boating Safety! The U.S. Coastguard warns bout a condition called boater’s fatigue, which means that the wind, noise, heat, and vibration of the boat all combine to wear you down when you’re on the water.
Be sure that the weather conditions are safe and keep up with local forecast information.
Personal flotation devices! Its always a good idea for everyone on the boat to wear Coast Guard-approved life jackets, whether the boat is a large speedboat or a canoe and whether you’re a swimmer or not. Wearing a life jacket is the law in some states for certain age groups, and you could face a stiff penalty for breaking it.
Stay in touch! Before heading out on the boat, let somebody on land know your float plan (where you’ll be and how long you’ll be out). That way if you get into trouble, someone will have an idea of where to look for you. If you’re going to be on the water for a long time, it’s a good idea to have a radio on you in order to check weather reports. Water conducts electricity, so if you hear a storm warning, get off the water as quickly as you can.
Most people don’t think much about water safety, but drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death. So don’t let paying attention to safety turn you off. Being prepared will make you feel more comfortable and in charge.
This article was inspired by https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/water-safety.html