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Summer is well upon us, and as the weather heats up, one of the most popular ways to beat the heat is to head to the water. While swimming is great exercise and a fun way to cool down, it can also be very dangerous if safety isn’t your number one priority.
Every summer in the United States, many hundreds of children, teenagers, and young adults drown in pools or natural bodies of water. Most, if not all drowning deaths, are potentially preventable, and since two-thirds of all drowning happens from May to September, now is the time to be especially vigilant.
When in or around water it is important to observe the following water safety tips:
• Learn to swim. Swim courses are available for all ages and abilities.
• Always swim with a buddy. Never swim alone.
• Swim in an area supervised by a lifeguard. Obey all rules and posted signs. Never leave a child unobserved.
• Know your limits. Do not swim in water that is beyond your abilities.
• Inexperienced swimmers should take precautions, such as using flotation devices. However, these devices are not a substitute for supervision.
• Be prepared. Learn CPR and rescue techniques in case of emergency. Keep basic life-saving equipment by the pool.
• Be careful about diving. Use a feet-first entry when entering the water.
• Install barriers around home pools, such as fences, self-latching gates, pool alarms, and power safety covers. Remove steps or ladders when the pool is not in use.
• Pay attention to the weather. Stop swimming at the first indication of severe weather.
• Do not mix alcohol and water play. Alcohol impairs your judgment, balance, coordination, and reduces your body’s ability to stay warm.
• Be aware of your environment (water depth, current, obstructions, etc.). Don’t panic if caught in a current—swim gradually out of the current by swimming across it.
When it comes to children and water, adult supervision is the key to safety. One adult should always be focused solely on children playing in water and be free of all other distracting activities.
Following these tips should help you and your family stay safe in and around the water this summer. For more information about water safety or to find a CPR class in your area, contact the Washington County Health Department at (859) 336-3989.