Safe Summer Swimming
Writer: Lisa Thompson RN BSN
Summer is finally here, which means families in Hamilton County will be beating the heat at the pool, at the reservoir, the beach or at the river. Nothing is better on a hot day than being refreshed by a cool dip in the water. While water activities can be a ton of fun, they can also be very dangerous without the proper safety precautions.
According to the American Red Cross, an average of 10 people per day die of unintentional drownings. And 4 out of 10 drowning deaths per year involve children age 14 and younger. These are scary statistics, but with the right preparation and education, your families can have a fun and safe summer in the sun.
The best way to prevent swimming accidents is to teach your children to swim at an early age. Floatation devices alone cannot keep your child safe. Statistics show that if a child does not learn to swim by the third grade, they more than likely never will. Here in Hamilton County, we have multiple places to get children educated on the swimming basics. Being comfortable and competent in the water is essential to their safety.
Pools can be especially dangerous if they are in your backyard. Make sure back doors are locked and that there is an enclosure on or around your pool. Educate your children about not going in or near a pool without an adult. Also, make sure after your family and friends are done swimming that all of the toys and floats are put away. Having toys and floats in a pool can attract small children back into a pool while no one is watching, making an accident more likely.
For younger children, adult supervision is always necessary. Children can drown in less than two inches of water. Teach your children to ask before going near water, and don’t assume that another adult will be watching them. Assign an adult to watch the children and take turns so that everyone has a chance to relax and enjoy the water.
For older children, help ensure their safety by having them swim with a buddy. Statistics show that 32 percent of drowning accidents happen when swimming alone. Swimming with a friend ensures there is someone who can get help if something goes wrong. Make sure you know who your child’s swimming buddy is and do frequent “buddy checks” throughout the day. Also, have a phone close by in case of an emergency.
Adults should avoid alcohol while swimming, especially if they are responsible for monitoring children. Drinking alcohol impairs judgment and coordination, ability to regulate body temperature and your sense of distance and direction. It takes the body one hour to process one alcoholic drink, so please drink responsibly.
Finally, learning CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) can save the life of your loved one. The average time it takes to get medical attention in an emergency is 7-14 minutes, depending on location. If a drowning has occurred, this is crucial time lost. According to the American Heart Association, only 46 percent of those needing CPR outside of the hospital get the immediate help they need. There are a number of classes available through the American Heart Association and American Red Cross.
In summary, always be aware of dangerous situations and be present with your family when you are in or near water. Make sure you are not just giving rules to your children about water, but also educate them on why the rules are important. Following these simple steps will not only keep you safe, but it will also allow you to have more fun this summer while enjoying your family. Have a wonderful safe summer!