- Splashing, wading, and paddling – it must mean a great day in the water. Playing at the beach, at a water park, by a lake, or in a pool can be a real treat on a hot day. Swimming is a lot of fun, but drowning is a real danger. Let's find out how to stay safe in the water.
Why Is It Important to Be Safe in the Water?:
- Fish are able to live and breathe under water, but people need air to breathe. People drown when too much water gets into their lungs. When that happens, the lungs can't carry enough oxygen to the brain and the rest of the body.
- Drowning is the second most common cause of death from injuries among kids under the age of 14. Drowning can happen fast – sometimes in less than 2 minutes after a person's head goes under the water. That leaves very little time for someone to help.
- Many drownings and near drownings occur when a kid accidentally falls into a swimming pool. But accidents can happen anywhere – at someone's home or even at your own house, and that's why you need to know how to be safe around water.
- Pools are awesome! What could be better than a dip in the pool and fun in the sun? But remember a pool's sides and bottom are usually made of concrete, a rock-hard material. A slip or fall could be painful and dangerous.
- Have you seen those big numbers painted on the side of the pool? Those are called depth markers – they tell you how deep the water is at that point. You should always look before you jump into a pool. You should also only dive off the diving board. Never dive off the side of the pool unless an adult says that the water is deep enough. The water may be shallower than you think. If you hit the bottom . . . ouch! You might get knocked out or you could hurt your neck very badly.
- Test the pool's water temperature before you plunge in. Cold water can shock your body and make your blood pressure and heart rate go up. You might accidentally open your mouth to yell and accidentally breathe in some water. Cold water can also slow your muscles, making it hard to swim.
Here's some other good advice for the pool:
- Always have an adult watch you when you are in the pool – even in your own backyard. Never go in the pool if there is not an adult around.
- Gates are around pools for a reason – to keep kids away from the water when there isn't a lifeguard or adult around to watch them. Never go through any pool gates when they are closed. Stay safe and stay out!
- Always obey pool rules.
- Swim with a buddy.
- If you're learning to swim, ask your mom or dad to make sure your flotation devices are Coast Guard approved.
- Walk slowly in the pool area. Don't run.
- Swim at a depth that is safe for you. If you're just learning to swim, stay in the shallow end.
- Don't push or jump on others. You could accidentally hurt someone or yourself.
- Toys to help you float come in many shapes and sizes (an inner tube, air mattress, or beach ball, for example). Although they are fun and can help you while you learn to swim, they can't save a life. These toys can lose air or float away.
- Don't chew gum or eat while you swim – you could choke.
Lakes and Ponds:
- Lots of kids swim in streams, lakes, or ponds. Extra care must be taken when swimming in these beautiful places. You can't always see the bottom of the lake or pond, so you don't always know the depth of the water. This is another reason to always swim with an adult. Although the fish swimming around won't hurt you, some ponds and lakes may hide jagged rocks, broken bottles, or trash. Wear something to protect your feet. Also, watch out for weeds and grass, which can trap even a good swimmer. If you panic and try to yank yourself free, you may get even more tangled. Instead, shake and pull your arms and legs slowly to work yourself loose or call for an adult's help.
- If you're going out on a boat, always wear a life jacket. (Again, the life jacket should be Coast Guard approved.) Even if you are a good swimmer, something could cause the boat to tip over and you could be trapped underneath.
- It's hard to resist a day on the beach, but you'll need to know some safety rules when you're swimming in the ocean. When you first get to the beach, check with the lifeguard to find out how strong the waves are. Some places fly flags or write notes on a chalkboard to give swimmers an idea of what conditions are like.
- In some places swimmers may encounter strong undertows or ocean currents. Rip currents are so strong that they can carry swimmers away from shore before they know what's happening. If you are caught in a current, swim parallel to the shore (alongside the shore) rather than to the shore until the water stops pulling you, then swim back to shore. If you can't get back to the beach, tread water and wave for a lifeguard's help.
- You probably won't see any sharks (although a friendly dolphin may splash by) where you are swimming. But you might run into some jellyfish or Portuguese man-of-wars. These umbrella-shaped, nearly clear animals can grow to be as large as several feet in diameter! They are often found floating near the shore. Getting stung is no fun – it can hurt and blister your skin. If you get stung, tell an adult as soon as possible.
Here are some other good water safety tips:
- Learn to swim. Ask your parents to contact your local Red Cross or community center for information on boating or water safety courses.
- Always apply plenty of sunscreen before you go outside. It's also a good idea to wear sunglasses and a hat to protect your skin from ▪ the sun's harmful rays.
- Stop swimming or boating as soon as you see or hear a storm. Remember, lightning is electricity – electricity and water are a dangerous combination.
- Don't swim in the dark.
- Wherever you're swimming, do have a waterfall of fun!