Water safety and drown prevention — time for a recap

This is the sixth installment of our water safety series in conjunction with this summer’s drown prevention and water safety campaign. This campaign is part of our Community Risk Reduction program. We have taken bits and pieces of what’s been published thus far and have compiled it here, so folks who have not had the opportunity to see parts 1-5 can catch up.

We also offer a website with great information: protectamerica.com/pool-safety.

Go to the bottom of the pictograph and click on Sources. There are nine different programs. The first one is “Spot the Drowning Child.” It’s a live action Youtube video of a community pool full of children with one in trouble. It’s the real deal. If you watch that clip, we guarantee you’ll open the other eight.  

While maintaining your pool remember to:

  • Store and use pool chemicals safely.
  • Check your fence and ensure the gates close and latch properly.
  • Check house door alarms and floating pool alarms for proper operation.
  • Learn how to safely respond to water emergencies (CPR, first aid, lifeguarding, basic water rescue) by taking a class.
  • Enroll your non-swimmers in a swimming class.
  • Make sure your hot tub is covered securely when not in use.   

Know how to recognize an emergency:

  • Drowning happens quickly and quietly. Stand your watch.
  • Teach your family and guests to use the word “help” for a true emergency only.
  • Know the signs of a swimmer in distress. Distressed swimmers are trying to swim but are not making any progress.
  • Active drowning victims tend to push down on the water in order to keep their heads above the water line.
  • Never assume a swimmer calling for help or believed to be in distress is joking around. Take action.

Know how to respond to an emergency:

  • If someone is missing in general, check the pool, hot tub, etc.
  • Alert the on-duty lifeguard.
  • Don’t wait. Have someone call 9-1-1.
  • Use the reach-throw method. Reach with a pole, skimmer net or other long-handed device. Throw a buoy or other inflated device.
  • Only go in if you are a trained water rescue person/lifeguard or if you can stand up in the body of water with your head above the water line. A drowning victim will very often pull their rescuer under.
  • Learn life-saving techniques and CPR.

Wear a life jacket:

  • When boating or rafting and when using an inner tube or personal watercraft.
  • When children and weak swimmers are in, on or around water.
  • In open waters or other challenging environments.

How to choose a life jacket:

  • It should be U.S. Coast Guard approved.
  • It should be right for the activity you are participating in.
  • It needs to fit the person. One size does not fit all.
  • Remember to make sure buckles and straps are in good order and discard torn or damaged jackets. Practice swimming with it on, too.

Water and weather preparedness

Plan your trip by getting the forecast and knowing where you’ll be enjoying your waterborne activities. Is it an approved swim area? Are lifeguards on duty?  

Keep an eye out for:

  • Unexpected changes in air or water temperature
  • Fast-moving currents, waves and rapids, even in shallow water
  • Hazards such as dams, rocks, debris floating on top of the water or on the bottom. Never dive head first into an unknown body of water.
  • Aquatic life and underwater vegetation.
  • Sudden drop-offs, ledges or changes in water depth.
  • Other people around you including boats.

Water safety at the waterfront:

  • Ensure everyone knows how to swim. Tragically, the news has reported that non-swimmers have gotten into the water and in trouble all season.
  • Swim in designated areas with lifeguards.
  • Keep children under constant supervision. Do not get distracted. A one-minute text message could mean the difference between a good day at the lake and a family tragedy.
  • Do not depend on water wings or inflatable toys.
  • Always swim with a buddy.

For more information on water safety and drown prevention, go to: http://rdcrss.org/1UKMhLF and http://bit.ly/23rJLPt.

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