There’s nothing quite like a peaceful summer day at the beach. That peace can turn to tragedy in a moment when someone you love is in danger of drowning.
About 10 people a day in the United States die by accidental drowning and many of these deaths are preventable. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers these timely tips for summer swimming safety.
10 Beach Safety Tips to Prevent Accidental Drowning
1. Learn to swim and teach your children how to swim. Formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by as much as 88 percent among young children aged one to four, who are at greatest risk of drowning. But even when children have had formal swimming lessons, constant, careful supervision when in the water, and barriers to prevent unsupervised access are necessary to prevent drowning.
2. Learn Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). In the time it might take for lifeguards or paramedics to arrive, your CPR skills could save someone’s life.
3. Avoid drinking alcohol before or during swimming, boating, or water skiing.
4. Heed warning flags. Know the meaning of and obey warnings represented by colored beach flags, which may vary from one beach to another.
5. Know the terrain. Be aware of and avoid drop-offs and hidden obstacles in natural water sites. Always enter water feet first.
6. Avoid rip currents. Watch for dangerous waves and signs of rip currents, like water that is discolored and choppy, foamy, or filled with debris and moving in a channel away from shore. If you are caught in a rip current, swim parallel to shore; once free of the current, swim diagonally toward shore.
7. Look for lifeguards. Select swimming sites that have lifeguards whenever possible.
8. Be on the lookout. When kids are in or near water (including bathtubs), closely supervise them at all times, even when lifeguards are present. Adults should avoid distracting activities and using alcohol or drugs while supervising children. Adults should also use the buddy system.
9. Don’t hyperventilate. Swimmers should never hyperventilate before swimming underwater or try to hold their breath for long periods of time. This can cause them to pass out (sometimes called “shallow water blackout”) and drown.
10. Fence it off. Barriers to pool access should be used to help prevent young children from gaining access to the pool area without caregivers’ awareness when they aren’t supposed to be swimming. Pool fences should completely separate the house and play area from the pool, be at least four feet high, and have self-closing and self-latching gates that open outward, with latches that are out of the reach of children. [See: Pool Safety Tips (with video)]
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