It's swimming season in North Texas
When temperatures hit triple digits, North Texans can cool off with a refreshing swim, whether it's a backyard or community pool, water park or area lake. When swimming, safety should always come first, which is why we've compiled some safety tips to keep summer fun in the water.
Some sobering swimming statistics
The CDC reports that about 4,000 people drown in the U.S. each year. Except for birth defects, drowning is the leading cause of death for kids ages 1 to 4, and they most often drown in swimming pools, hot tubs and spas. Olympic skier Bode Miller's 19-month-old daughter, who drowned in a neighborhood pool, is a tragic example.
Among children ages 1 to 14, fatal drowning remains the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death. Older children, teens and young adults typically drown in natural water, like lakes and rivers.
Drowning doesn't discriminate. That's why it's important for everyone to follow key safety tips when near the water.
11 tips for swimming safely
- Set water safety rules with the family. Kids should never swim alone, inexperienced swimmers should stay in water less than chest deep, don't dive into water unless you know that it's deeper than 9 feet, and stay away from pool drains, suction lines and other openings—these can suck in loose clothing and hair on swimmers, trapping them under water.
- Secure home pools. If you have a pool at home, make sure there is an isolation fence separating it from the house and the surrounding yard. It should be at least 4 feet high with self-latching and self-locking gates. Want additional levels of safety? Install alarms on the gates and a safety pool cover that meets ASTM Standards.
- Check pool ladders. Make sure pool ladders are secured and free of rough edges and loose screws. If your dogs like to swim, train them to exit the pool by using the stairs on the shallow end.
- Wear life jackets. The CDC recommends Coast Guard-approved, well-fitting life jackets. Save your money on inflatable water wings for little ones—inflatables, noodles and other foam toys aren't designed to keep swimmers safe. Even experienced swimmers can drown, so kids, non-swimmers and tired swimmers must wear life jackets in the pool. In lakes and rivers, everyone wears a life jacket and swims only in designated areas, including strong swimmers. Water can look calm on the surface but be hiding dangerous underwater currents. Remember, life jackets alone don't replace supervision.
- Practice "touch supervision" with newborns and children up to age 4, even if they've had swimming lessons. Touch supervision means that an adult is within an arm's length of the child with full attention focused on that child at all times when he or she is in and near water.
- Designate a water watcher. The designated water watcher continually surveils swimmers in the pool and open water. This means eyes on the water at all times—no glancing down at the cell phone, setting the page-turner aside, saying no to the frozen margarita and talking to friends while continuing to stare at the water. Take turns so everyone has a chance to relax.
- Know how to recognize a swimmer in trouble. Drowning is silent and quick, unlike the flailing arms and screaming that are fodder for made-for-TV dramas. Do you think you could spot a swimmer in trouble? Watch this interactive video and see if you can spot the drowning child before the lifeguard does. It's not as easy as you'd think! A swimmer who is barely able to keep his head out of the water and not calling out for help is in immediate danger and needs help from a rescue swimmer (in a life jacket!). In contrast, a swimmer with his head above the water, calling for help and vigorously moving his arms and legs has enough oxygen to participate in his own rescue. Bystanders can use a ring buoy, pole or rescue tube to help move him to safety.
- Skip breath-holding games. Kids may think they're fun or do them to build lung capacity, but they're actually ineffective and dangerous.
- Never swim under the influence of drugs, alcohol or fatigue. These are often contributing causes to drowning.
- Remove temptations. After swimming, put away all of the toys. They can tempt children and pets to be near the pool or use the pool when unsupervised.
- Learn CPR. In the time it takes for paramedics to arrive, CPR could save someone's life.
Following these tips can help you and your family have a safe and fun summer.