It’s officially summer and the sun is scorching. Many would consider a perfect summer day to consist of cooling off by a pool, boating in the lake or spending a day at the beach. All common pastimes for those looking to escape the heat; all with potential risk. Water safety could potentially save a life.
Let’s face it, it can be unbearably hot and water activities are fun. But if you’re going to spend time near or in the water, water safety should be on your mind. Children five and younger, teens and young adults have the highest risk of water accidents.
For children, the risk comes with the inability to swim and the lack of attention from an adult. When a child drowns, most say they only looked away for a second, and they probably did. Drownings can occur in an instant and unsupervised children are at great risk by falling into pools or drowning in bathtubs or sinks.
Once we learn how to swim, we assume water safety isn’t something we need to think about. We can swim, where’s the risk? But in 2016, drowning rates were higher among those age 15-24 than those younger than five, according to the National Safety Council.
Just because you can swim and don’t require parental supervision to be in a body of water doesn’t mean your risk has disappeared. While young children have a risk of drowning by falling into a pool or being alone in a bathtub, young adults have a risk of drowning in natural settings. Teens and young adults tend to associate water activities with drinking and playing around, while having a false sense in their swimming strength.
According to the Center for Disease Control, alcohol use is involved in 70 percent of deaths that occur during water recreation, almost a quarter of ED visits for drowning and about one in five reported boating deaths, all among adolescents.
Hazard recognition and safety precautions are key to water safety and drowning prevention. Because the nature of injury and death differs depending on age group, safety precautions differ too.
Water safety precautions for teens and young adults:
- Never go into the water if you can’t swim.
- If you can’t swim, learn. Any age can receive swimming lessons.
- Always wear a life jacket while boating or taking part in boating activities such as tubing or skiing.
- Never swim alone or in an unsupervised area.
- Know your swimming strength.
- Don’t rough house around water. Never push, jump on or hang on to others in or around water.
- Never drink alcohol while taking part in water or boating activities. Alcohol affects your motor skills therefore making it harder to swim, float, keep balance or drive.
Water safety precautions for guardians of young children:
- Teach or provide swimming lessons.
- Know CPR.
- Make sure your child always wears a properly fitted life vest or floaty.
- Never leave your child alone or take your attention off of your child around water. If you need to leave or are too distracted, take your child out of the water.
- Never consume alcohol when supervising children in the water. Alcohol can diminish your judgement and ability to perform CPR in case of an emergency.
- Don’t rely on a lifeguard’s supervision or judgement. Always keep your eyes on your child.
- Remember that children are rarely able to waves their arms or call for help while drowning. Never rely on a signal.
- Be sure to have child safety barriers and protective fencing around a pool.