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Five water safety tips for summer


There’s a good chance that your summer plans include a trip to the beach, lake, river or pool. No matter which body of water you’re splashing into this season, we’d like to (politely) interrupt your summer with some essential tips surrounding water safety.

The reality is that you’ve probably heard news covering the importance of staying safe around water many times before. But it doesn’t hurt to pause for a few reminders, especially considering that drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury-related death according to the World Health Organization and the CDC.

Whether you’re heading out of town or hanging out in your backyard this summer, check out these five water safety tips to help you and your family stay safe under the sun without missing the fun.

  1. Make swimming lessons a priority for everyone (and no, we don’t just mean for the kiddos). The Red Cross reports that 80 percent of Americans claim they can swim, however only 56 percent of them actually have the basic skills to save their life in the water if needed. While taking swimming lessons doesn’t prevent drowning entirely, it can help significantly reduce the risk. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics reported in 2009 that formal swimming lessons showed an 88 percent reduced risk of drowning in children. Bottom line: make sure everyone in the water knows how to swim.
  2. Never, ever swim alone. Create a “buddy system” that ensures everyone in your family enters (and exits) the water with someone else at all times. It’s way more fun to splash around with others anyway.
  3. Look for the lifeguards. Whether you’re at the beach or the community pool, take note of the lifeguard stand, and be sure to swim in supervised areas. If you’re looking after kids or teens in any body of water, active supervision from an experienced adult swimmer is a must.
  4. Zip up that life jacket. Yes, they’re sometimes cumbersome and the opposite of a fashion statement, but if you’re hopping on a boat or any other type of vessel, remember that most fatalities are caused by drowning. Be sure everyone dons a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket before boarding — no exceptions. And if there are young or inexperienced swimmers in your party, whether they’re on board or simply wading at the shoreline, have them wear a life jacket at all times. But don't rely on life jackets alone. Consider them as helpful safety tools along with your watchful eye.
  5. Be prepared for an emergency. It literally takes seconds for the unthinkable to happen, so if a child is missing, head straight to the water before looking anywhere else. If you own a pool, be sure to have life-saving equipment on hand and easily accessible (not stowed away in the garage). And, take the time to enroll in CPR courses.