News Archive

Healthy Living: Water Safety

Sabra JacobsDrowning is a silent killer. Did you know that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2011) every day, about 10 people die from unintentional drowning and that of these, two are children aged 14 or younger? Or that drowning is the 6th leading cause of unintentional injury death for people of all ages, and it is the 2nd leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 14 years of age? Or that nonfatal drownings can cause brain damage that may result in long-term disabilities including memory problems, learning disabilities, and permanent loss of basic functioning (e.g., permanent vegetative state)? Please dont be fooled, you will never hear a person who is in serious trouble in the water. Instead, they will silently slip beneath the waters surface and be gone from our lives, just that quick!

So, while playing in cold water during the hot summer months may seem like a great way for many people to cool off and rejuvenate themselves, there can be hidden dangers that you must be prepared for. Whether you like to go swimming, boating, fishing, or rafting it is important to be observant and stay safe throughout these fun and relaxing activities. This months article will focus on water safety and what you can do to keep yourself and your loved ones safe in the water.

General Water Safety Tips

The following is a list of safety suggestions that all families should observe when they are around water:

Learn to swim

Swim in areas supervised by a lifeguard

Non-swimmers: wear a flotation device when around water

Never leave the room when children are in the tub

Know that a baby bath seat or ring wont keep children from drowning

Empty and turn over all buckets as soon as you are done using them

Do not swim if you are too: tired, cold, or far from safety

Set water safety rules for the whole family

Be knowledgeable of the water environment and its potential hazards

Pay attention to local weather conditions and forecasts

Use a feet-first entry when entering water

Do not dive unless it is clearly marked

Do not mix alcohol with swimming, diving, or boating

Know how to prevent, recognize and respond to water emergencies

Parents should take a CPR class

Enroll your children in a water safety course

Dont rely on flotation devices to keep your children safe in the water

Maintain constant supervision in any water environment

Beach Safety Tips

The following is a list of safety suggestions that all families should observe when they are at the beach:

Protect your skin from sun burns

Drink plenty of water even if you dont feel thirsty

Teach kids never to swim alone

Watch for signs of heat stroke

Wear eye protection

Wear foot protection

Boating Safety Tips

The following is a list of safety suggestions that all families should observe when they are sailing, fishing, or around watercraft:

Learn to swim

Alcohol and boating dont mix

Use only U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets when boating and fishing

Develop a float plan in case of emergencies

Fins a boating course in your area

Watch the weather

Home Pools Tips

The following is a list of safety suggestions that all families should observe when they are around backyard or public pools:

Learn to swim

Never leave a child unobserved around water

Keep a cordless or cell phone nearby the pool in case of emergency

Learn Red Cross CPR and insist all caregivers for your child know it, too

Post CPR instructions and 9-1-1 or local emergency number in the pool area

Enclose the pool with a self-locking, self-closing fence with vertical bars

Never leave a gate to the pool open

Teach kids to stay away from pool and hot tub drains

Keep a first aid kit at poolside

Never assume someone else is watching a child in a pool area

Never leave furniture near the pool fence

Always keep basic lifesaving equipment by the pool and know how to use it

Keep toys away from the pool when it is not in use

Pool covers should always be completely removed prior to pool use

If a child is missing, always check the pool first

Lakes and Rivers Safety Tips

The following is a list of safety suggestions that all families should observe when they are fishing, boating, or rafting on lakes or rivers:

Learn to swim

Select a supervised area

Select an area that is clean and well-maintained

Select an area that has good water quality and safe natural conditions

Dont let kids operate personal watercraft such as jet skis

Make sure the water is deep enough before entering head-first

Be sure rafts and docks are in good condition

Avoid drainage ditches and arroyos for water run-off

Suggested References :

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for injury Prevention and Control. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [online]. [cited 2011 Apr 6]. Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars

Health and safety tips: Water safety tips (2012). The American National Red Cross.

Water safety (2012). Safe Kids, USA.

Water safety tips (2012). International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF).

Water safety updates (2012). National Water Safety Month.

Questions or Comments? Please contact: Sabra Jacobs, Professor of Psychology, Big Sandy Community and Technical College, 1 Bert T. Combs Drive, Prestonsburg, KY 41653; email sabra.jacobs@kctcs.edu ; call (606) 889-4778; or stop by my office Pike Building, room 209 f on the Prestonsburg Campus.