Aug 03 2010

Learn to Swim ... Water Safety Tips

Click here to read the story of six teenagers who lost their life in the Red River on Monday.  And remind yourself of the importance of (1) knowing how to swim and (2) knowing how to be safe around water, especially with children.

Make Water Safety Your Priority

  • Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
  • Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone. Even at a public pool or a lifeguarded beach, use the buddy system!
  • Ensure that everyone in the family learns to swim well. Enroll in age-appropriate Red Cross water orientation and Learn-to-Swim courses.
  • Never leave a young child unattended near water and do not trust a child’s life to another child; teach children to always ask permission to go near water.
  • Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone.
  • Establish rules for your family and enforce them without fail. For example, set limits based on each person’s ability, do not let anyone play around drains and suction fittings, and do not allow swimmers to hyperventilate before swimming under water or have breath-holding contests.
  • Even if you do not plan on swimming, be cautious around natural bodies of water including ocean shoreline, rivers and lakes. Cold temperatures, currents and underwater hazards can make a fall into these bodies of water dangerous.
  • If you go boating, wear a life jacket! Most boating fatalities occur from drowning.
  • Avoid alcohol use. 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

  • Install and use barriers around your home pool or hot tub. Safety covers and pool alarms should be added as additional layers of protection.
  • Ensure that pool barriers enclose the entire pool area, are at least 4-feet high with gates that are self-closing, self-latching and open outward, and away from the pool. The latch should be high enough to be out of a small child’s reach.
  • If you have an above-ground or inflatable pool, remove access ladders and secure the safety cover whenever the pool is not in use.
  • Remove any structures that provide access to the pool, such as outdoor furniture, climbable trees, decorative walls and playground equipment.
  • Keep toys that are not in use away from the pool and out of sight. Toys can attract young children to the pool.

Maintain Constant Supervision

  • Actively supervise children whenever around the water—even if lifeguards are present. Do not just drop your kids off at the public pool or leave them at the beach—designate a responsible adult to supervise.
  • Always stay within arm’s reach of young children and avoid distractions when supervising children around water.

Know What to Do in an Emergency

  • If a child is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.
  • Know how and when to call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
  • If you own a home pool or hot tub, have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit.
  • Enroll in Red Cross home pool safety, water safety, first aid and CPR/AED courses to learn how to prevent and respond to emergencies.

Comments (5) -

8/3/2010 6:25:00 AM
Jason United States
This morning Eric and Lisa mentioned that everyone should learn to swim because it may save some ones live someday. I would caution that unless you have been trained in water rescue you could be putting yourself in danger as well as the person who needs help. There have been many cases were the person in need of rescue grabs the rescuer and pulls them both down thereby adding another victim. It would be better to find a long pole or tree limb and extending to the victim or finding a life jacket or other flotation device and throwing it to the them so they can grab them and use them.  
8/3/2010 8:00:01 AM
LisaMae United States
Just want you to know that I am in Baton Rouge PRAYing... I know how to swim (swimteam for 3 yrs) and am teaching a child this summer.  I am doing it FREE --- even before this tragic moment, I knew it was something I should teach others.  But to remind everyone---you must know how to rescue others (before you end up a victim yourself---drowning people panic); and that sinkholes, currents and other variables make "knowing" how to swim very difficult---swim with caution and protection (buddies and jackets!).  God please bless families with knowledge and wisdom in this difficult time.
8/3/2010 8:59:11 AM
Sabra United States
This article really hit home for me.  I have a friend who is a firefighter, but does not know how to swim.  When I read about how the parents were helpless to save their own children, I thought about my friend and how he could find himself in the same situation.  He is trained in life-saving CPR and first aid, but he cannot go in the water due to his inability to swim and his fear because of that inability.  I sent him the article and link to the blog in hopes that he will seriously consider learning how to swim before it is too late.  Thank you for posting this!
8/3/2010 10:07:13 AM
Renee United States
Hey Lisa,  I heard you mention that you grew up in Benton, LA.  Small World!  I did too!!!  I lived there from 1971-1981.  I figure I should be able to remember you as Benton is such a small town, but nope!  oh well.

My brothers & I learned how to swim at Girl Scout Camp Wawbansee (my mother was a leader!)
8/5/2010 8:04:49 AM
BRIAN DUTTON United States
I'm working with the U. S. Coast Guard Auxiliary with some fellow auxiliarists to develop a life jacket education program to educate children and adults about the dangers of being around the water.  

Last year we got a call about a 4 year old boy in the Maumee River.  My Search and Rescue team was on site in record time (I was on the communication desk).  The little guy was recovered very quickly but it was still too late.

Parents need to know that our childrens job is to get away from us.  No matter how good a parent you are, they will get away from us.  Water has a natural draw to it that to a child may be more than they can resist.

I tell parents, and grandparents that even when you take your children fishing from a dock or river bank, "Please put a life jacket on the child.  And wear one yourself to be a good example to them because they want to be like us.".

In boating accidents 90% of all fatalities are caused by the victim not wearing a life jacket and 90% of those are found to have had some swimming proficiency.

My local Flotilla and Division are strong supporters of the Josh project to help children get swimming lessons.  We are having a summer fund raiser August 14 at the Indiana Avenue Baptist Church in Toledo, Ohio.  
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