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With Summer upon us, the rising mercury leads us to places of relaxation. Not only are we looking for a place for a little R&R,  but we’re looking to cool off by adding some water activities to our day. Hanging out by the pool or on the beach on a hot day is a great way to beat the heat. Swimming is the most popular Summer activity. Most of us don’t think much about water safety. There are so many distractions such as just having fun, reading or electronics that can sometimes interfere with us really paying attention to what’s going on around us. And this could be very dangerous.

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We need to make water safety our priority. Drowning is the 2nd leading cause of accidental death for people between the ages 5-21. Most accidents can be avoided by knowing how to stay safe.

Safety Guidelines include:

Learning how to swim is essential (check in your area for local classes; YMCA and swim clubs are a great source); age appropriate swim lessons.

Buddy Up (no matter if your at a backyard pool or a lake; even experienced swimmers can become tired and get muscle cramps, which makes it difficult to get out of the water).

Learn life-saving skills such as CPR and rescue techniques (some organizations offer free classes; YMCA or YWCA, local hospitals, Red Cross).

Know your limits; only go as far as you can reach the bottom if you’re a beginner or not a good swimmer; don’t try to keep up with skilled swimmers; Good swimmers keep an eye on friends who aren’t as comfortable or as skilled as you are.

Swim in safe areas only; only places supervised by a lifeguard.

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Be careful about diving; Diving injuries can cause a head injury, permanent spinal cord damage, paralysis and sometimes even death; only dive in areas known to be safe, such as the deep end of a supervised pool; “No Diving” or “No Swimming” signs, pay attention to them; the previous means water isn’t safe for head 1st entry.

Always maintain constant supervision. Actively supervise kids whenever they are around water,  even if lifeguards are present. Do not drop kids off at a public pool or leave them at the beach. Designate a responsible adult to supervise them. Do not trust a child’s life to another child. Always stay within arm’s reach of young children and avoid distractions when supervising children around water. Teach children to always ask for permission to go near water.

Young children or inexperienced swimmers should wear U.S. Coast Guard approved life jackets around water, but don’t rely on jackets alone. Also, make sure you wear a life jacket while boating. Most boating fatalities occur from drowning.

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Alcohol plays a role in a lot of water accidents. Avoid alcohol use because it impairs judgment, balance and coordination,  affecting swimming and driving skills. It also reduces the body’s ability to stay warm. Up to half of all water-relatd deaths involve alcohol. Half of all adolescent male drownings are tied to alcohol use.

OTHER STATISTICS

Nearly 80% of people who die from drowning are males.

Children ages 1-4 years have the highest drowning rates (most occur in home swimming
pools).

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Among 1-14 year olds, fatal drowning remains the 2nd leading cause of unintentional injury-related death behind motor vehicles crashes.

Between 2005 and 2009, data for unintentional drowning rates for African Americans was significantly higher than whites across all ages; the disparity was the widest among ages 5-14 year olds (fatal drowning rate for this age group was almost 3x that of white kids the same age).

*Factors such as access to swimming pools, the desire or lack of desire to learn how to swim and choosing water-related recreational activities may contribute to racial differences in drowning rates.

FACTORS THAT INFLUENCE DROWNING

1. Lack of Swimming Ability
2. Lack of  Physical Barriers (such as fences)
3. Lack of Close Supervision
4. Location: people of different ages drown in different       locations
5. Failure to Wear Life Jackets
6. Alcohol Use
7. Seizure Disorders: drowning most common cause of unintentional injury death, with the bathtub as the site of the highest drowning risk

Summer and water activities can be enjoyed by all and everyone can remain safe by following these easy guidelines. Stay alert and undistracted. If you or your loved can’t swim, find a class and get some lessons. Always supervise your children around water. For more tips and information contact the Red Cross or another local organization in n your area.

*The information in this post is for informational purposes only. Contact a professional on the topic for advice.