Summer Water Safety and Your Family

By Krista Elliott

During the hot summer months, it’s nice to escape the heat and stickiness by leaping into a cool lake, river, ocean, or swimming pool. Swimming and splashing in the water is one of summer’s great pleasures. But are you taking the precautions needed to make sure your swimming is safe?

Playing on or in the water is fun, but it can be dangerous: According to the Centers for Disease Control, “From 2005-2014, there were an average of 3,536 fatal unintentional drownings (non-boating related) annually in the United States — about ten deaths per day. An additional 332 people died each year from drowning in boating-related incidents.”

Why Does this Happen So Often?

There are a lot of factors that contribute to high rates of drowning:

  • Inability to Swim - You would be shocked to learn that there are a lot of people who work on or around the water, who cannot swim. Go up to any group of commercial fishermen on a wharf, and ask them how many of them can swim. I would lay serious odds that fewer than half of them would raise their hand.
  • Access to Open Water - Little kids move fast. You could duck into the bathroom for just a moment, and in that time, your toddler could be outside and in the pool. Separating the pool area from the rest of the yard with a high fence and a secure gate has shown to reduce a child’s risk of drowning by 83 percent.
  • No Life Jackets - “I’m a great swimmer, so I don’t need a life jacket!” Even the best swimmer can’t swim when he falls over the side and knocks himself out on the edge of the hull. The overwhelming majority of boating death victims were not wearing life jackets. Don’t be one of them.
  • Alcohol - The only time you should be mixing water with booze is if you put a little bit of it in your scotch. Drinking when boating, tubing, or hanging out in the pool is a major cause of accidents and death. Save your adult refreshments for when you’re back on dry land.

So, How to Stay Safe?

  • Swimming Lessons Save Lives - Young or old, it’s never a bad time to learn how to swim. Most formal swimming lessons also include important modules on water safety.
  • Learn CPR - If you have kids, this is a vital skill to learn, and can make all the difference when every second counts.
  • Don’t Be a Loner - Always swim or boat with another person. If doing a solitary paddle, like kayaking, invest in a personal locator beacon to wear on your life jacket, so you can quickly signal for help.
  • Life Jackets - Their importance can’t be over-emphasized. Love ‘em, use ‘em, wear ‘em. Full stop.
  • Be Vigilant - Drowning doesn’t consist of thrashing about and calling for help. It happens quickly and quietly. If you have little ones near or in the water, stay within arm’s reach at all times.

Playing in or on the water can be one of summer’s greatest pleasures. And with some careful precautions, your summer memories will always be happy ones.