With temperatures rapidly rising, more people are now heading to the lake, to the beach, or just jumping in the pool to cool off, and that means everyone should take the time to keep a number of simple safety rules in mind.
WEIS Radio News recently spoke with Cherokee County Coroner, Dr. Jeremy Deaton, about those safety concerns for the holiday weekend:
People of all ages are subject to the dangers of drowning – and, all those with small children should be especially watchful around the water.
Also, there’s an extremely important point that needs to be made:
We here at WEIS Radio wish everyone a happy – and safe – Memorial Day holiday.
Drowning is the number one cause of injury-related death among children between the ages of one and four.
To help protect keep the water fun and safe for everyone follow these simple water safety tips.
Active Supervision: Designate a Water Watcher
A child can drown in the time it takes to answer a phone call. Designate at least one responsible adult to actively supervise children in and around water. The designated watcher must not leave the pool, beach or lakeside at any time without a replacement, and they should refrain from anything that prevents them from giving their full attention such as phone calls, text messages, reading or other distractions. Wearing a Water Watcher tag can help parents be clear on who is taking the responsibility at any time. Download your own Water Watcher’s tag HERE
Enroll your child in Swim Lessons
It is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that all children ages 4 and up should take swimming lessons. It has been shown that 1 to 4 year olds with formal swimming instruction may be less likely to drown, but every child is different, so enroll children in swimming lessons when you feel they are ready.
Don’t Rely on Swimming Aids
Remember that swimming aids such as water wings or noodles are fun toys for kids, but they should never be used in place of a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device (PFD).
Know the Signs of Drowning
Drowning isn’t always noticeable. Someone who is drowning will not be able to yell for help or wave their arms for attention, so it is important to always supervise your child and recognize the signs of distress. A drowning person will be upright but will not seem to be using their legs to kick, and they will press their arms outwards and downwards onto the surface of the water. Someone who is drowning will also have their head tilted back, mouth open, and may have their hair covering their forehead and eyes.
You never know when an accident may happen, and it can help parents to know they’ll be prepared. If you’re not already CPR certified, enroll in a class, it can save someone’s life. The American Red Cross, National Safety Council, and the American Heart Association all offer CPR courses. You can also check with your work, local hospitals, places of worship, or the YMCA to see if they offer any CPR classes.
Create Barriers/Check Drain Covers
Make sure backyard pools have four sided fencing at least four feet tall with a self-closing, self-latching gate. You may also consider installing an alarm for the gate to your pool to let you know if children are attempting to enter the pool area. Families can also invest in a pool cover to protect a child from falling in. Barriers are not all childproof though. If your child is missing, always check the pool first.
Drain entrapments occur when the force of a pool’s suction holds a person against a pool or spa drain. If you have a home pool or spa, make sure your drain cover follows safety regulations and install a safety vacuum-release system. When out at public pools, teach children to not play by drains.
Talk to your Child about Water Safety
Teach your children about important water safety rules:
- Always have an adult with you when you go swimming – never go near water alone.
- Always ask permission before going in the water.
- If a toy falls in the pool, ask a grownup to get it for you.
- Don’t have breath-holding contests in the water.
- If you see someone in danger or who needs help, don’t go in after them – instead, throw something for them and go get help.
For more information about pool safety visit: http://www.safekids.org/water-safety
Safety Rules for Swimming in Lakes
Swimming in inland lakes differs from taking a dip in your local pool. You often have to share the lake with boaters, water skiers and other recreational vehicles. Whether sandy or rocky, lake bottoms are often uneven and produce startling, sudden drop-offs into deep waters. You may have to contend with fish, seaweed and fishing residue such as fish hooks buried in the sand. Water conditions in lakes can be unpredictable. Always check with local park authorities for information about area lake swimming rules.
Get to Know Your Surroundings
Lake swimming safety begins with a good understanding of what dangers your lake poses to swimmers. In some glacier-fed lakes, hypothermia is a real risk, even on warm summer days. Know what the water temperature is before you wade in. Find out what the lake depth is so you can dive safely. Test your cell phone on shore, as carrier signals vanish on many remote lakes. Know where the emergency call boxes and rescue equipment are located.
Never Swim Alone
Lakes are typically large, wide and deep. Even when the lake is crowded with swimmers and boaters, you should never venture out alone. Always swim with a buddy or in a group. Be aware of who is in your group and where they are at all times. Lake rip tides can pull a swimmer under and away from shore very quickly. Learn to recognize lake wave actions so you can avoid potentially dangerous tide situations.
Respect the Rules
Check to see if there are rules posted for swimmers at the lake you are visiting. You can often find written guidelines in pamphlets at the ranger station or in local convenience stores. On boating lakes, swimmers are kept apart from boaters to avoid accidents. Usually, unsupervised beaches maintain buoys and rope lines to designate swimming areas. Do not carry glass items onto the beach or into the lake, because broken glass is a hazard to swimmers and beach-goers.
Watch For Weather Hazards
Lake hazards can come from the sky above. Read or listen to a weather report for the lake area before you set out for the day. If the weather threatens to turn unpleasant, take a portable battery-operated radio to listen for weather alerts. Leave the water at the first sound of thunder and don’t re-enter the water until at least 20 minutes after the last clap of thunder has passed. Evacuate the beach entirely in the event of lightning.
Keep Children Safe
If you take children to swim in a lake, keep them within your grasp at all times. Strong underwater currents can catch youngsters by surprise and pull them under in seconds. Always have your children wear life vests in the water. Be prudent about allowing them into the water after a meal, or if they are over-heated. Take along a beach umbrella to provide shade and a cool place for children to rest between swims.