Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The (Safe) Life Aquatic: Water Safety Tips for a Happy Summer

by Lauren McMinn Clarke, volunteer contributor

Do you prefer SPF 15 or SPF 75? Is your typical water entry a sleek dive or a crashing cannonball? Do you like to mingle with the fish, or would you rather float on a sherbet raft above the fray?

Whatever your heat-escaping water preferences are, it is so important to remember some general safety tips for your upcoming aqueous adventures.

Here are some basic safety reminders:
  • 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.
Please visit RedCross.org for a comprehensive list of water safety tips.

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