With the summer months quickly approaching, people need to take extra, specific precautions to protect themselves and their loved ones from water hazards. Practicing water safety ensures that everyone can enjoy the fun of outdoor water activities with less risk. Learning about and enacting water-safe rules can prevent drownings and protect children and adults of all ages.
The first priority is making sure everyone in the family knows how to swim. The earlier a child learns to swim, the less likely it is that he or she will develop water phobias. The Red Cross offers swimming lessons and water safety instruction. Age-appropriate lessons can begin as soon as a child becomes a toddler.
Unfortunately, vacation is a prime time for water accidents like drowning. To prevent a water emergency, people should never swim alone or allow their children to swim in pools that do not have a lifeguard on duty.
Those who cannot swim should always wear a lifejacket — even in shallow water and no matter their age. Lifejackets save lives and are crucial for child safety. To ensure a lifejacket will be fully protective, people — especially small children — should be professionally fitted.
If a water emergency arises, it is crucial that people remain calm and follow these steps:
- Call 911 immediately if a person is found to be unresponsive.
- Remove the person from the water immediately and place them on their side.
- Lean close to the victim’s face and check to see if they are breathing.
- If the victim is not breathing, check for a pulse at the wrist or on the sides of the neck.
- If no pulse is found, begin CPR and continue until the victim gains consciousness or EMT help arrives.
Though people of all ages are at risk for drowning, small children are particularly vulnerable. Parents should monitor their children around any type of water, and never allow other activities to distract them from keeping a close eye on the situation. Following these tips can help prevent children from drowning:
- Young children can drown in as little as two inches of water. Drownings often happen where least expected, so children need to be closely monitored at all times.
- Never assume a child knows how to swim. In fact — assume they do not. An adult swimmer should be within touch distance of any child who is swimming.
- Coast Guard-approved life vests must be worn by children at all times, even if they are merely sitting or playing near a body of water.
- Keep children hydrated by providing plenty of water while swimming. Dehydration can make a child dizzy and heighten their risk of drowning.
Following these water safety tips will help keep everyone out of harm’s way and ensure a fun, safe summer.