According to the National Safety Council, drowning is the second leading cause of death from unintentional injuries in people ages 5 to 24-years-old, and the leading cause of death from unintentional injuries for all ages. Whether your family is poolside or lakeside during the summer months, you can reduce the risk of drowning by setting – and following – a set of swimming safety rules.
Swimming safety tips
1. Take swimming lessons. Regardless of age, knowing how to swim is the most important factor in preventing drowning. Enroll your kids in swim lessons before your summer outings and make sure they can competently swim before allowing them to get in the water. Adults can also benefit from lessons, especially from an instructor who can demonstrate life saving techniques in the case someone you are with is drowning.
2. Never swim alone. It doesn't matter if you are a beginner or a seasoned swimmer, always buddy up with someone before you hit the water. Set a rule with your kids that they cannot go into the water alone. In addition, swim only in supervised areas and obey signs posted by the pool or body of water.
3. Be aware of the water. Most public pools have numbers along the side indicating the depth of the pool. Teach your kids the meaning of these numbers and deter them from diving into shallow waters. If you are at a lake, discourage them from diving in without first surveying not only the depth of the water, but also the presence of rocks, tree stumps and other obstacles. Wearing old tennis shoes is a good way to prevent foot injuries from rocks, sticks or broken glass on the lake bottom.
4. Do a self-check. As you are swimming, be sure to listen to your body. If you feel at all fatigued, too cold or overexposed to the sun, get out of the water. Periodically as your kids are swimming, ask them how they are feeling. Teach your kids to self-check and explain that getting out of the water when they aren't feeling their best can keep them from drowning.
5. Always avoid alcohol. Alcohol can not only impair your swimming ability, it can also reduce your body's ability to stay warm. Alcohol also increases the risk of you unintentionally falling into the water and getting injured. If you are thirsty, drink water, juice or another nonalcholic beverage. This will not only help keep you safe while swimming, it will set a good example for your kids.