Summer often means time spent near water: swimming pools, water parks, beaches, lakes, fishing trips, and other water centered activities. Most water safety rules would seem to be common sense, but it is up to parents and parental figures to make sure our children know the basics.
A few very basic tips can help prevent a lot of potential trouble.
- Lifeguards are present to keep an eye out for trouble, and to help people who get in over their heads. When you are at a public pool, pay attention to the lifeguards. When you are at the beach or a lake, swim only where there are lifeguards available. Remember that they have had special safety training in the course of their jobs.
- Life-jackets are special flotation devices worn by those who cannot swim, or who are boating, or have other need for a flotation device while they are near the water. In some areas, life jackets are mandatory. These jackets are shaped more like vests, and should be worn properly with all buckles properly closed. Life-jackets should be properly fitted, too. If the vest is too large or too small, or improperly buckled, it can easily cause more harm than good.
- If you have eaten a meal or are not feeling well, avoid getting into the water. Among other hazards, the motion of the water can put off your equilibrium and cause you to become dizzy or nauseous.
- If you are diving, only dive in areas marked for diving. When diving into unknown water, the depth may be too shallow, or there may be a rocky or trash covered bottom. Places where diving is allowed has been inspected beforehand for safety of use.
- If you cannot swim, stay in shallow areas and expressly avoid areas marked for dangerous tides. Don’t go into the water alone. It only takes a few inches of water for a person to drown.
- Watch for tide warnings. A dangerous tide at the beach or in a river can sweep you away before any else may notice. Even a tide pool at a water park can create some odd eddies that can trip an unwary wader.
- If you can’t see the bottom, don’t go in the water. Murky water in a swimming pool indicates a dirty or improperly shocked pool. Murky water at the beach or other swimming spot can conceal broken glass, rusty metal, dangerous animals, and a host of other hazards.
- Keep a weather-eye open. If dark clouds begin gathering, if it is raining, and most especially if you hear thunder or see lightning, stay away from the water. Storms will cause turbulence that can result in dangerous waves, vortexes, high winds, and other hazards. Yes, these hazards can even appear in larger swimming pools. Lightning can strike the water and cause localized electrocution; this hazard is more prevalent in swimming pools and smaller bodies of water.
- Exercise caution in choosing when and where you indulge in water-based recreation spots and you will have a lot more fun in your summer excursions.
Image: Flickr/Randy Pertiet