By Cory Sekine-Pettite
For many of us, summertime is synonymous with water time, whether that means swimming in our backyards, hanging out at the neighborhood pool, or taking a beach vacation. Think about it: Many of your favorite childhood memories likely involve a beach trip with your family (and perhaps a fancy resort pool), carefree summer days at a pool with your friends, and maybe some water sports such as surfing, kayaking, or riding a personal watercraft. And since we’re into July and Georgia’s weather has been quite hot for two or three months, some of you surely have been swimming already.
In fact, the pool in my neighborhood opened in late May, which got me thinking about swimming safety. You should be thinking about this, too — especially if you’re a parent. According to the National Safety Council, on average about 10 people die from drowning every day in the United States (not including boating accidents). Further, drowning is the second leading cause of preventable death in children 15 and under. But there are steps we can take to prevent these tragedies. Please keep the following KidsHealth.org safety measures in mind so that you and your family will have a fun, memorable, and safe time this summer:
- Don’t go in the water unless you know how to swim; otherwise take swim lessons first
- Never swim alone
- Learn CPR and rescue techniques
- Make sure the body of water matches your skill level; swimming in a pool is much different than swimming in a lake or river, where more strength is needed to handle currents
- If you do get caught in a current, don’t try to fight it; stay calm and float with it, or swim parallel to the shore until you can swim free
- Swim in areas supervised by a lifeguard
- Don’t push or jump on others
- Don’t dive in unfamiliar areas
- Never drink alcohol when swimming; alcohol is involved in about half of all male teen drownings, according to KidsHealth.org.
Remember that distractions lead to disasters. You can have fun in the water; just be aware of your surroundings and never take your eyes off your children. Accidents can happen in an instant. For more swimming safety tips, visit nsc.org and poolsafely.gov.