When the summer sun is out in full force, nothing beats a quick dip in the ocean or an afternoon on the lake. Yet, while pools, lakes and beaches are ideal for warm weather fun, they also present risks to young children and expert swimmers alike. If you want to make your home safer or learn how to handle wild water conditions, here's some sound advice:
1. Prep your pool for kids: The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) knows that pools can be dangerous for kids of any age. Therefore, they've created TIPP (The Injury Prevention Program) in order to help keep parents educated and informed. The AAP strongly recommends self-closing and self-latching fences that are at least four feet high and surround the entire pool. Keep a shepherd's hook or life preserver next to the pool, and don't rely upon inflatable toys or air-filled swimming aids as a replacement for approved life vests – especially for children just learning to swim. For kids under the age of five, the AAP urges parents and supervisors to keep them within an arm's length. Visit www.aap.org for more pool safety tips and find out how to take a CPR class at the Red Cross website (www.redcross.org).
2. Hang ten with handy beach advice:
San Diego is a beloved destination for beach bums across the world, so officials in charge of seaside safety can offer valuable tips. City experts recommend always swimming with a friend and near a lifeguard. For long-distance swimmers, keeping parallel to the shore is also a must. If you find yourself caught in a rip current, don't swim against it but rather sideways until free. Any San Diego lifeguard will also tell you "feet first, first time" (meaning don't dive into unfamiliar waters) and stay clear of coastal bluffs. Even experienced swimmers and scuba divers should always use caution when entering new territory. Get more tips at www.sandiego.gov or contact local authorities if you're planning a beach getaway and need more information about specific water conditions.
3. Be smart when leaving the dock: Whether you're paddling a small canoe or revving up your speedboat, spending time on a lake requires adequate safety knowledge. The USDA Forest Service reports that nearly 1,000 people in America die in boating accidents each year, with about 50 percent of fatalities resulting from alcohol consumption. The Forest Service's first rule of thumb, therefore, is to refrain from drinking alcohol while operating a boat. Check your medications for side effects such as drowsiness, too. Always wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved flotation device and make sure your boat is equipped with a paddle, towline, emergency radio, first aid kit, flares and a whistle or horn. The USDA also urges individuals to keep their boats in proper working order and avoid excessive speed. Learn more from the U.S. Forest Service at www.fs.fed.us.
Perhaps the biggest piece advice that experts tend to repeat is "learn how to swim." Although this may seem like common sense, think about it for a minute: what would you do if caught in a rip tide? How long can you tread water? Even if you already know to basics of swimming, brushing-up on techniques is never a waste of time; learning emergency skills, such as CPR, can also save a life when by the pool or at the beach. Once you boost your waterside smarts, you’ll be able to cool off with more confidence this summer.