Preventing Aquatic Accidents
Learning to swim goes hand in hand with being safer in and around water. However, water safety means so much more than knowing how to swim! Accidental drownings can be largely avoided through vigilant supervision, swimming skills, and water safety training.
As part of a well-rounded learn to swim program, you and your children should learn when and where it is safer to swim. Water safety is all about preventing aquatic accidents and deaths so that you and your loved ones can enjoy the many pleasures and benefits of water.
“Drowning is the #1 cause of accidental death for children ages 1-4.” This organization goes on to state that “61% of children, including more than half of all teens, can’t perform basic swim safety skills.” This is a frightening statistic; we can all improve this statistic by learning water safety. – Stop Drowning Now
Know Your Abilities
One key factor in water safety is knowing your swimming abilities. Unfortunately, many people put themselves in harm’s way when they overestimate their ability. This is particularly true of children and teens; constant, uninterrupted adult supervision is critical. At least one adult should be in charge of care when playing in or near the water.
Learning to swim and vigilant supervision is essential in protecting against drowning. Sadly, many drowning victims had no intention of going into the water. Instead, they may have been fishing in a small boat and fell overboard while not wearing a flotation device. Or, perhaps they were enjoying the view from a dock when they fell in. Learning how to swim and be water safe is key to helping to prevent drowning and other water-related emergencies.
Do you and your family have the necessary ability to recover from an unintended fall into the water safely? Whether a backyard pool or pond, a creek, or a lake, the skill to recover from an unintentional water entry is vital. Swimming lessons will teach you and your child to stay calm and swim to safety. Unfortunately, water can be a place of danger for the unskilled. Water is a genuine risk; parents and children must know the skills needed to be water safe.
- Learn how to swim, and encourage your entire family to learn how to swim
- Ensure that there are always designated adults supervising the water
- Learn CPR and first aid, and have rescue equipment at the ready
- Control access to swimming areas
- Learn safe water entries
Know Your Environment
Familiarize yourself with aquatic environments when you visit a pool, lake, creek, or another place to swim. Know the water depths; your water entry should be feet first the first time. Many catastrophic diving injuries could be avoided by taking a moment to know what is below the water’s surface. Set boundaries with your swimmers if a roped-off area does not designate the swimming area. Know if there is a lifeguard on duty, and understand all local risks. Shallow water is safer for beginners and feet first entries, while deep water is safer for diving and strong swimmers. The ocean requires knowledge of potentially dangerous tides and currents and is for expert swimmers only.
- Always have a phone ready for emergency calls
- Inspect the water for potential hazards such as sharp rocks and rip tides
- Know the water depths and conditions
Know How to React
The first step in responding to an aquatic emergency is the ability to recognize when someone is in distress. Challenge yourself by trying to spot a drowning child in this video:
There are many misconceptions about a drowning person; in reality, drowning is often a silent and incredibly rapid event. It takes mere seconds for a drowning to occur; most accidental drownings can be prevented by knowing how to swim, practicing water safety rules, and having supervision. In an aquatic emergency, be prepared by learning how to perform CPR and basic first aid. Know how to engage emergency services.
If you see someone in distress in the water, know your limitations. Rescuing a drowning person requires specialized training, experience, and a high level of fitness. If you do not know how to perform an aquatic rescue, you risk becoming a second victim. You may be able to help, though, by throwing a life ring or buoy or by extending a safety hook. Further, you can help by dialing your local emergency services.
Stay calm, take charge, and call for help
- Know your limits
- Be prepared to react at a moment’s notice
- Prevent aquatic emergencies by reducing risks
For more information on how you can be water safe, visit these resources:
- Stop Drowning Now
- National Drowning Prevention Alliance
- United States Swim School Association
- Pool and Hot Tub Alliance