Last updated on July 9, 2019 at 11:23 am
Summertime is your time to hit the beach, lake or poolside. Keep yourself and your family safe with these water safety tips:
1) You’re never too young (or too old) to learn how to swim. Teach your little ones to swim as soon as possible; most qualified swim instruction programs start at the 4- to 5-year old level. Make sure your children know the basics: treading water, holding their breath under water and basic strokes. Never let your kids swim without you; get in the water and enjoy your time with them.
What about you? Do you know how to swim? If not, you’re not alone. According to Swimmunity, a website for new adult swimmers, as many as 50-65 percent of American adults don’t know how to swim, a statistic we find pretty shocking. Visit http://www.swimlessons.com/ or the U.S. Masters Swimming site http://www.usms.org/placswim/ for resources in your area. Make it a goal to learn to swim this year. It could save your life.
2) Never swim alone, or without lifeguard supervision. Remember the opening scene in Jaws? Don’t swim at night or anywhere without a lifeguard or swim buddy (and that’s only if you’re a strong swimmer). Always play it safe and have someone watching your back in case anything happens.
3) Don’t let it rip. Back in 2013, Heidi Klum saved her 7-year old son and two nannies from a powerful undertow in Hawai’i. If you’re caught in a rip current, don’t panic: it’ll cause you to sink instead of float. Tread water, float on your back and wave for help as you float or swim parallel to the shore until you can swim to safety, out of the grip of the current. Remember, do not attempt to swim against the current (you will just get tired and you won’t get anywhere).
Riptides aren’t really tides at all; the more accurate term is rip currents or undertows. Look for sandbars before you go for a swim—they’re usually an indication of a strong undertow. These unpredictable currents can be deadly for the most experienced swimmers too, so pay attention to beach signs and warnings from lifeguards. See the links below for more information.
4) Boaters/Water Craft: Don’t drink while operating any water craft, ever. Wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices. Kids must wear them at all times; adults if you don’t, at least have them handy so you can put them on quickly in an emergency.
5) “When in doubt, don’t go out.” Stay out of the water if you’re too tired/cold/sunburned/overheated/not feeling up to it. Are your kids’ lips turning blue? Get ‘em out of the pool.
How to escape a rip current:
Swimmunity’s 10 Things Every Adult Learning How to Swim Should Know:
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