May is National Water Safety Month, and we wanted to share some tips to make sure the whole family stays safe around the water! Review the following to make this summer safe at the lake or pool!
Tips from the Red Cross
- Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
- Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone.
- Never leave a young child unattended near water and do not trust a child’s life to another child; teach children to always ask permission to go near water.
- Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone.
- Maintain constant supervision.
- Make sure everyone in your family learns to swim well. Enroll in age-appropriate swim lessons.
- If you have a pool, secure it with appropriate barriers. Many children who drown in home pools were out of sight for less than five minutes and in the care of one or both parents at the time.
- Avoid distractions when supervising children around water.
- If a child is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.
- Have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit.
- Know how and when to call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
- Protect your skin. Limit the amount of direct sunlight you receive between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. and wear sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 15.
- Drink plenty of water regularly, even if you’re not thirsty. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine in them.
- Enroll in Red Cross first aid and CPR/AEDcourses at the YMCA of Cass and Clay Counties or Family Wellness to learn how to prevent and respond to emergencies.
Five Hidden Hazards of Open Water from Safekids.org
- Limited Visibility– Water in lakes and ponds can be murky, hiding hazards such as rocks, logs and uneven surfaces. Limited visibility can also make it difficult to see if a child falls in. If lifeguards are present, ask about the safest area to swim. When entering unfamiliar water, go in feet first and wade out slowly.
- Depth, Distance and Drop-offs– Unlike a pool, open water rarely has depth markings, making it difficult to know if kids are getting into water that is over their heads. When swimming in open water, it can also be hard to perceive distance from the shore. Additionally, while there may be a gradual slope as you enter the water near shore, there might be a sudden drop-off further out. When looking for safe place to swim, choose a designated swimming area and check for signs warning about potential hazards.
- Currents and Tides– Currents in rivers, creeks and streams can be fast-moving and unpredictable. While some strong currents such as rapids are visible, others can flow under the water’s surface. In oceans or lakes, waves and rip currents can be dangerous. Families should avoid swimming at unsupervised beaches or in areas not designated for swimming. Before allowing kids to swim in open water, make sure they know how to deal with a crashing wave and escape a rip tide or strong current.
- Water Temperature– Open water is usually colder than water in a pool, which can affect a child’s swimming ability. What’s more, falling into cold water can result in shock, which can lead to panic and even drowning. When participating in boating or other recreational water activities, families should remember to dress for the water temperature, rather than the air temperature, and to always wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life vest.
- Weather and Seasonal Differences– Changes in the weather can make open water more hazardous. Heavy rains and flooding can create strong currents and rapidly change the depth and clarity of water. Families should also be aware of man-made storm channels and reservoirs that can be empty one minute and full of water the next. If you are planning an outing that involves open water, check the weather and water conditions before you leave home and again when you arrive. Stay alert for changes while you are on site and always stay out of the water if you hear thunder or see lightning.