During the summer months, there’s nothing better for adults and kids alike than taking a dip in a nice, cool swimming pool, lake, or river. Summer is also when we head to the lake and rivers with our boats, jet skis, kayaks, etc.
Yet, as we know from recent events, water fun can swiftly become tragedy if some simple, basic safety rules aren’t observed. Make sure you and your family are water safe by following these safety policies:
BASIC WATER SAFETY
Learn to swim
The best thing anyone can do to stay safe in and around the water is to learn to swim. The American Red Cross has swimming courses for people of any age and swimming ability.
Learn CPR and insist that babysitters, grandparents, and others who care for your child know CPR. The American Red Cross and the Minnesota National Safety Council both offer CPR classes.
Never leave a child unobserved around water—any water, including pools, spas, bath tubs, etc. Adult eyes must be on children at all times when around water. The average child stays on the surface of the water for only 10 seconds and the drowning process can start after they are submerged within 20 seconds.
It takes as little as 2 inches of water and 2 minutes for a child to drown. Toilets and buckets of water can be deadly to toddlers, who are top-heavy and can fall over head first. If you have toddlers in your home, always keep the toilet seat down and never leave a bucket of water unattended.
Always swim with a buddy; never swim alone, even in your own pool.
Wear a lifejacket or PFD whenever possible, the Personal Floatation Device must be US Coastguard approved and fit properly.
Don’t swim if you’re under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
Make sure the depths of your pool are clearly marked. Teach children and other inexperienced or non-swimmers to stay in the shallow end.
Post CPR instructions in the pool area.
If you have a cordless (not cell) phone, keep it with you at the pool. If there is any pool emergency, call 911 IMMEDIATELY; then attempt rescue efforts.
Always keep basic lifesaving equipment by the pool and know how to use it. Pole, rope, and personal flotation devices are recommended.
Enclose the pool completely with a self-locking, self-closing fence with vertical bars. Openings in the fence should be no more than four inches wide. The house should not be included as a part of the barrier.
Pool covers should always be completely removed prior to pool use.
Consider installing an alarm that will sound if anyone or anything falls in the pool. Remember: A child can drown in less than two minutes.
Never leave furniture near the fence that would enable a child to climb over the fence.
Keep toys away from the pool when it is not in use. Toys can attract young children into the pool.
If a child is missing, check the pool first. Go to the edge of the pool and scan the entire pool, bottom, and surface, as well as the surrounding pool area. Keep your pool water sparkling clean so if someone is on the bottom, they can be seen.
Make sure your pool deck is made of or treated with slip-resistant materials.
In public swimming pools, always swim in areas supervised by a lifeguard and read and obey all rules and posted signs.
LAKE & RIVER SAFETY
Children or inexperienced swimmers should ALWAYS wear a US Coast Guard-approved personal floatation device/life jacket when around the water.
Watch out for the dangerous “too’s” – too tired, too cold, too far from safety, too much sun, too much strenuous activity.
Set water safety rules for the whole family based on swimming abilities (for example, inexperienced swimmers should stay in water less than chest deep).
Be knowledgeable of the water environment you are in and its potential hazards, such as deep and shallow areas, currents, depth charges, obstructions and where the entry and exit points are located. The more informed you are, the less likely you are to be injured or killed.
Use a feet-first entry when entering the water.