Part 3 of a 3-part series
This summer, whether you plan to enjoy a stay-cation or leave your house or doghouse for a short or extended period of time, there are several safety-related things to consider. The first two entries in our three-part series covered safety at home and safety while traveling. In this final post about summer safety, we will focus on how to be water safe. I will never understand why humans don’t naturally learn to dog-paddle the way canines do. It comes in handy to know how to swim.
According to the American Red Cross, more than 200 young children drown in backyard swimming pools in the United States each year. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) reports that the six most common causes of drowning include:
1. Inability to swim
2. Absence of barriers to prevent unsupervised water access
3. Lack of close supervision of non-swimmers and/or weak swimmers
4. Omission of life jackets
5. Use of alcohol
6. Seizure-related disorders
Drowning is as significant a concern in natural bodies of water as it is in home and public swimming pools and hot tubs. The U.S. Lifesaving Organization (USLO) says the major causes of ocean-related accidents are weather-related swells and rip currents. In 2014, there were:
- 90,964 swimmers rescued near U.S. beaches
- 4,225 boat rescues and 5,240 boat assists
- 7,652,479 preventive actions
- 341,143 medical aid incidents
- 93 unguarded drownings
- 19 guarded drownings
- 35 other water-related fatalities
So, this summer, take steps to make water safety a priority:
- Swim only in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
- Swim with a buddy. Never swim alone. The buddy system is always a good idea.
- Make sure that everyone in your family knows how to swim well. Enroll your kids in age-appropriate classes. We didn’t have to enroll JR in swimming classes. He knew how to doggy-paddle the day he was born.
- Never leave a young child unattended near water.
- Do not trust your child’s life to someone else.
- Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water. Water wings are insufficient to prevent drowning.
- Do not rely on life jackets, alone.
- Set firm rules for your family members. Make sure children always ask permission before going near the water. This includes the dog bowl. I can’t tell you how many times toddlers have knocked over my water!
- Always be cautious around natural bodies of water (even if you do not intend to swim.)
- If you go boating, wear a life jacket! Most boating fatalities occur from drowning.
- Water and alcohol do not mix. Alcohol impairs judgment, balance and coordination; affects swimming and diving skills; and reduces the body’s ability to stay warm.
Prevent Unsupervised Access to the Water
- For safety as well as reduced risk of liability, install and use barriers around your home pool or hot tub. Also consider containers of standing water.
- Use pool barriers that enclose the entire pool area, with 4-feet high fences and self-closing gates. Install self-latching gates that open outward, away from the pool. Latches should be high enough to remain well out of reach for a small child.
- Take safety precautions for above-ground and even inflatable pools. Remove access ladders when not in use and cover whenever the pool is not in use.
- Store or distance anything that could potentially provide access to a pool, such as outdoor furniture, trees, walls or swing-sets. You could be held liable if people break into your backyard to swim. Actress Demi Moore recently learned this lesson firsthand.
Maintain Constant Supervision
- Actively supervise kids whenever they are around water. Don’t rely on a lifeguard or other swimmers or sunbathers to supervise your kids.
- Stay within arm’s reach of young children.
- Avoid distractions when supervising children around water.
What to do in an Actual Emergency
- If a child is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.
- Call 911.
- If you own a home pool or hot tub, make sure you have easy access to appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit.
The smartest thing to do is to prepare well in advance of any actual emergency. Enroll in water safety, first aid or CPR/AED courses to learn how to prevent and respond to emergencies. We hope this blog post will motivate you to do whatever it takes this summer to #BeSafe in and around the water. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives.