Now that the hot dogs have been consumed and the grills have cooled from their Memorial Day workouts, it’s time to dive into summer!
Before you jump into the deep end, though, be sure to do with caution. It’s worth noting that according to the Centers for Disease Control, drowning is one of the leading causes of unintentional injury death in the country. From 2005-2014 there were an average of 3,536 non-boating-related drowning deaths in the United States per year and additional 332 people died each year, on average, from boating-related accidents. That’s more than 10 deaths per day! Even more tragically, approximately one if five fatal drowning victims are children ages 14 or younger. Nonfatal drowning injuries often cause severe brain damage that may result in long-term disabilities or permanent vegetative states.
Don’t let the CDC keep you out of the water, though. Swimming and other watersports are a great way to enjoy Tennessee lakes and neighborhood pools, but play it safe by heeding these water safety tips:
Tip #1: If You’re Going Swimming, Make Sure You Know How to Swim!
June is a great time to enroll your child in swimming lessons. The risk of drowning is decreased by nearly 90% when young children take swimming lessons. Just because you’re over the age of 18, don’t think you’re in the clear! Adults can benefit from refresher courses, CPR training, or lifeguarding classes.
The YMCA of Middle Tennessee offers swimming lessons for children as young as 6 months. It’s a wonderful way to enjoy quality time with your infant while simultaneously developing a strong foundation for swimming and water safety. Adults can enjoy private lessons, tailored to their skill and comfort level. If you’re not sure what class level is appropriate for your or your child, the Y’s Swim Lesson Finder can help your find the perfect class for you child. (Bonus: once your child triumphantly passes the swim test, you can relax poolside, knowing your child is in good hands.)
Not a card-carrying YMCA member? Nashville’s Parks and Recreation also offer affordable swim lessons for all ages.
Tip #2: Wear a Life Vest
If you’re not totally confident of your aquatic skills or your child hasn’t reached a level of mastery you’re comfortable with, be sure to wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket or personal flotation device. Although those duckie swimmies and donut-shaped floaties are super cute, they’re not designed to keep your little one safe. And if you’re boating, kayaking, paddleboarding, wakeboarding, or swimming in a lake, always wear a life vest, no matter what.
Tip #3: Know the Signs of Drowning
Don’t assume that a drowning person will make lots of noise, wave their hands in the air, and call for help. In fact, death by drowning is often a silent death. Drowning is essentially asphyxiation, so a swimmer who is unable to breathe will be unable to call for help. In the early stages of drowning, very little water actually enters the lungs. Instead, small amounts of water hit the trachea and cause spasms that seal the airway and prevents oxygen from entering the body. It also means that a drowning person is unable to cry for help. In fact, when your kid goes quiet in an otherwise noisy pool, they may be in trouble! If your child has a blank gaze but isn’t moving much, ask them if they’re okay. If the don’t respond, dive in immediately!
Tip # 4: All Eyes on Deck
Even if your kid is a great swimmer, always keep your eyes on the water. Infants can drown in as little as 2 inches of water, so be alert! Whether you’re paddling in a backyard pool or making waves at Percy Priest, vigilance is your best defense against drowning. If you need to step away, be sure to designate another set of eyes to watch your children.
Tip # 5: Swim Buddies are the Best!
Swimming is more fun, and safer with a buddy. The is a good water safety practice for adults as well as kids. Make sure that your kids can identify their swimming buddy in the pool and if they “swap buddies” make sure they communicate clearly with one another.
Tip # 6: Don’t Sip and Swim
Just as drinking and driving should never mix, nor should sipping and swimming. Consuming alcohol not only impairs your good judgment but it also negatively affects your balance and coordination and can impact your body’s ability to remain warm.
Tip #7: Dive On In! (Feet-first, of Course!)
Diving into a pool or shallow lake head-first can result in injuries ranging from bloody noses to paralysis. Be sure to teach your children how to jump into a pool feet-first, and away from the pool’s edge. Before jumping into a lake, make sure that the area is free from submerged objects that may cause injury. Enter a pool headfirst only when the area is clearly marked for diving and when certified lifeguards are present.
Tip #8: Test the Waters
There’s no need to torture yourself by slowly wading into a cool pool or chilly lake an inch at a time, but it’s good practice to take note of the water temperature before fully submerging. Jumping abruptly into cold water can shock your body systems. If you are elderly, have circulation problems, heart disease, or elevated blood pressure, excessively cold water may cause your muscles to contract while elevating your heart rate and blood pressure. It’s essentially a one-two punch that may lead to drowning.
Tip #9: Keep Your Phone Nearby
Invest in a waterproof case for your cell phone. Whether you’re in a pool or at the lake, being able to call 911 in the event of an emergency can be a life-saver.
When it comes to water safety knowledge is the key. Enroll your child in swim lessons today! The water-loving team at Royce Williams Insurance wish you a safe, healthy, and happy summer.