Every year, thousands of water-related accidents are reported, many of them involving serious injury or loss of life. Most of these accidents occur simply because proper safety measures were not taken by the party involved. Staying safe in the water or on board a boat means following a few rules and using good common sense.
The consequences of using poor judgment in or on the water can be life-altering. Here are five tips for reducing or eliminating the chances of an accident when enjoying yourself at the beach, pool, on the river, or on a boat.
1. Practice Water Safety
The first rule is to always make sure children are supervised. It is important that children and beginning swimmers enjoy themselves in an area supervised by lifeguards. It is just as important to stay away from areas designated as dangerous or off-limits. Strong currents and uneven footing is usually the reason signs are posted on beaches warning of unsuitable swimming conditions.
Enrolling in and completing a Red Cross water safety orientation is a good idea. These courses are divided into age-appropriate groups and teach the basics of water safety. In these courses, swimmers will learn how to use the buddy system, how to spot the signs of a swimmer in trouble, and how to use judgment when swimming in crowded beach areas.
2. Using Life Jackets
These are often the best bet for keeping children safe, especially on a raft, canoe, or boat. Make sure that the jacket chosen is Coast Guard approved. Teach youngsters how to put on the jacket properly, but do not rely on life jackets alone. A life jacket does not prevent someone from falling overboard. It merely helps keep them afloat.
3. Take Preventative Measures
When entering the water, always adhere to all signs and be aware of possible dangers such as sharp drop offs and deep water areas. Backyard pools are a great place to spend a day of relaxation and recreation, but these swimming areas are the most common place for accidents and drowning incidents. Installing barriers or gates/fences lets everyone know that a possible danger exists. Leaving toys or flotation devices laying around introduces a tripping hazard, so make sure everything is put away when not in use.
4. Teach Youngsters Pool Safety
Holding regularly safety meetings helps teach young children about the dangers that exist in and around a pool. Children should also be taught what to do in case of an emergency. These steps include knowing where the adults are at all times, learning how to make an emergency phone call, and learning how to use objects such as poles, nets, and clothing as reach objects.
5. Safety On Board
Boating is a very popular recreation activity. However, many people fail to practice good safety measures while on board. Remember that most accidents on boats involve a person falling overboard unexpectedly.
Boats should be equipped with at least one life jacket for every person aboard. Children and adults should become familiar with the articles that are approved as flotation devices. Never consume alcohol in excess while on the water, and watch for other vessel traffic at all times.
There are few things better than getting out in the water on a warm day. But swimming safety best practices are too often ignored contributing too many senseless serious injuries and deaths. By following the steps above, you are helping to provide a safer experience for yourself and for loved ones and could even be saving a life.