Summer is perhaps the most anticipated season of the year, but it comes with certain health and safety risks for both adults and children. Whether you're spending your summer by the pool, at the beach or on the lake, be sure your summer stays safe with these swimming safety tips.
Protect yourself from the sun
Unprotected exposure to the sun is the leading cause of skin cancer. Every time you get sunburned, you significantly increase your risk of skin cancer. Keep yourself protected by wearing long-sleeved clothing, wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses to prevent sun exposure as much as possible.
When your skin will be exposed to the sun, use a physical sunblock containing zinc oxide or titanium oxide with an SPF of at least 30. Apply sunblock to dry skin and wait at least 15 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours or after swimming or sweating.
Children ages one to four are at the highest risk for drowning. According to the CDC, drowning accounts for one-third of accidental injuries or deaths in children in this age range.
But it’s not just young children who are at risk. Keep yourself and your children safe while swimming with these tips:
- Always stay within arm's reach of your child when in or near the water.
- Do not rely on arm floats and air-filled tubes to help your child stay above water. They are not approved for safety and will not prevent your child from drowning.
- When participating in watersports, boating or rafting or when near open bodies of water, children of all ages should wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life preserver.
- Only swim at beaches or public pools with a lifeguard on duty, but do not rely solely on the lifeguard to keep you and your children safe. Put away distractions and keep your eyes on your child at all times.
- Do not allow your child to swim in a pool or hot tub that is not equipped with an anti-entrapment drain cover to prevent your child from being trapped by a drain.
Know the signs of dry drowning
Dry drowning, or secondary drowning, also poses a serious risk for children, and yet many people are unaware dry drowning can occur. A near-drowning incident is a major risk factor for dry drowning, which can happen after breathing in a small amount of water during a water struggle. Secondary drowning can result in breathing trouble, brain injury and, if untreated, death.
Know the signs of dry or secondary drowning and seek immediate medical attention for your child or anyone who might be displaying these signs after a water-related incident:
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain
- Extreme fatigue
- Sudden changes in behavior
Keep safe on the lake
A day on the lake can quickly turn dangerous when the proper precautions aren’t taken. Ensure your time on the lake is safe and fun with these tips:
- Always wear life jackets, even if you can swim. Boating accidents do happen, and you may find yourself suddenly in the water. If you are injured or even unconscious, you may not be able to swim and a life vest could save your life.
- Do not jump into the lake from high points, such as cliffs or bridges. There are potential unseen dangers under the surface of the water that could result in serious injury or death.
- Wear nose clips to prevent infection by deadly bacteria that lives in fresh water and can enter the body through the nose.
- Pay attention to your child’s location at all times, especially if they are in the water.
- Be aware of dangers under the surface of the water, such as sudden drop-offs, shifting water levels, powerful lake currents and brush or debris in the water.
- Wear shoes or water shoes when on the water or on land to avoid cutting your feet on broken glass or sharp objects on the lake bottom.
- When boating, pay careful attention to dams, warning signs, buoys, horns and other watercraft.
- Stay away from boat engines and exhaust outlets.
Check safety of swimming water
Not all water is considered safe to swim in. Here are some tips to help you know if water is safe:
- Check environmental conditions such as contamination and pollution, which may affect water quality and safety.
- Before swimming in a local pool, ask management how the pool is sanitized and ventilated. Avoid swimming in a pool with a very strong chlorine smell, as this is a sign of poor ventilation.
- Do not get into a swimming pool if the water looks cloudy, if you cannot see the bottom, if the sides of the pool feel slimy or sticky, or if you notice any foam or algae floating on the top of the water.
- Help keep public pools clean by showering before getting into the pool.
Many water-related deaths and illness are preventable. When it comes to water safety, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Use these tips to keep yourself and your family safe this summer.