Playing It Safe in the Water

By: Laura Hoss, M.D.

img-playing-safeLakes and pools become an oasis for people trying to stay cool in the summer. These summer havens, though enjoyable, should be recognized as a potential danger. In fact, drowning causes more than 4,000 deaths every year despite the fact that drowning and other water injuries are highly preventable. Following water safety tips will decrease the likelihood of water injury or accidents.

Children up to the age of four have the highest drowning rate. This stresses the importance of water safety and watching children when around water. Practicing water safety is an easy and most importantly, a necessary way to prevent accidents from occurring. Following simple safety precautions will help keep children safe while in the water. Here are some safety tips to remember while at the pool, lake or ocean this summer:

  • Teach children to swim. Make sure every member of your family knows how to swim at an early age. Swimming lessons are offered at most recreational facilities and gyms, like the YMCA. Learning to swim is not only fun, but a great way to practice water safety.
  • Never leave children unattended. Remember that children should be closely supervised around water. In the time it takes to answer a telephone or run to the restroom, a child can drown.
  • Don’t let children swim alone. Make sure that children don’t swim alone. A parent or advanced swimmers should be in the water with younger children. Older children should swim with a buddy and should be in an area with plenty of people and near a lifeguard if possible.
  • Have children wear flotation devices. Flotation devices are especially helpful for beginning swimmers. Children of all ages and swimming capabilities should wear lifejackets in larger bodies of water or while riding in a boat.
  • Lock backyard pools. Keep backyard pools fenced and locked. Make sure little ones cannot access the pool through an unlocked or non-electronically monitored back door.
  • Wear sunscreen. Because sunlight reflects off the water, Children and adults are more susceptible to sunburns while in the water. Be sure to wear a waterproof sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher.

Don’t let negligence around the water ruin your summer fun. Follow these water safety guidelines and you’re sure to have a safe and enjoyable summer.