Water Safety Tips
PHOENIX, July 10, 2008 — Recent news headlines throughout the country have reported on numerous water accidents resulting in extreme injuries and in some cases death. In addition to thousands of water related injuries that occur each year, drowning is one of the leading causes of death in toddlers and children.
As the temperature rises, swimming and water related activities increase, escalating the number of drownings. In summer months, between May and August, drowning deaths among children increase by nearly 90 percent and more than half of those deaths occur at a home pool. Most drownings happen very quickly, however all are preventable. Before you hit the water this summer follow these easy tips to ensure your safety at all times:
- Learn to swim. Always swim with a buddy; never swim alone. Better yet, swim with a lifeguard on duty. Never leave a child unsupervised near the water in a pool or any body of water. Not even swimming lessons make a child under the age of five waterproof. Remember, there is no substitution for adult supervision when around or in the water. Unless you see a child go under the water you will not hear them call for help. Drowning is silent!
- Coast Guard approved vests should be worn on boats and water vehicles at all times, however, children playing or swimming around a pool or body of water should not use floatation devices because they give the child and parent a false sense of security. They can deflate or slip off or children can forget to put them back on and can jump into the water because they think they can swim.
- Isolate pools with a five foot, non-climbable fence with a self closing, self latching gate. The gate should open outward from the pool and never be propped open. Supervision is critical, but layers of barrier protection are thought to be more important than supervision because if a parent loses sight of a child even for a second, a pool fence will buy them precious time to find the child and the child will not be able to get in the pool.
- Follow the rules. Rules such as "no diving" or "no swimming" were created for a reason - to protect us. Follow these rules at all times. Because most young swimmers cannot read, adult supervision is critical.
- Know your abilities. The water is not the place to challenge your abilities as a beginning swimmer. Be aware of your own limits and know how far out you can swim and for how long.
- Know the water. If you are poolside, be aware of where the shallow end meets the deep-end (your feet can no longer touch). If you are at the beach, be aware of elements such as currents, weather and water temperature.
- Alcohol and swimming are a dangerous combination. Alcohol impairs your judgment, and reduces your body's ability to stay warm. For swimmers under 21 years of age, drinking alcohol is illegal.
- Wear sunscreen. In or out of the water, be sure to lather up with waterproof sunscreen. Sunscreen with at least 15 SPF protects you from the sun's ultraviolet rays that can cause cancer, skin damage and other diseases. Also, minimize sun exposure between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
- Stay hydrated. Just because you are floating in water doesn't mean your body is hydrated. Drink plenty of water and avoid an excess of sugary drinks such as soda and juice that can dehydrate you.
- Last, and certainly not least, be prepared! Keep a telephone, a Sheppard's hook or pole and a Coast Guard approved life jacket, or safety ring around the pool. Learn CPR. It can make the difference between life and a drowning tragedy.
To schedule an interview with UOP Instructor and Child Safety Expert Mary Marlin, MSN, RN to discuss these tips, contact Christina Vanskike at 916-448-5802.