Residents may recall last summer, when an alert young lady and an uncle with CPR training saved a 2-year-old boy from a near-drowning in a Tewksbury pool. As the warm weather draws us to beaches and pools, it’s important to review basic water safety tips to avoid similar incidents this summer.
Water safety is not only swimming competency; it’s also being familiar with the environment you’re in, whether it’s the ocean, a pool or a river and taking steps to enjoy the water safely and to reduce risks of injury or drowning.
One of the most important aspects of water safety is to ensure that all members of your family know how to swim. Locally, both the Andover and Lowell YMCAs offer swim lessons for any experience level and age. Additionally, there are many private groups that also offer lessons.
It’s important to understand that drowning can occur in just a few minutes and in shallow water, and the cliche of someone yelling and thrashing around is false. People who are drowning are often exhausted and quietly slip under without anyone noticing. Therefore, it’s crucial to remain vigilant when supervising young children or inexperienced swimmers anytime you’re around water.
Here are tips to keep your family safe.
- Life jackets are a key component of water safety, but be sure to choose the appropriate size. The Red Cross advocates for their use on any open water or on boats regardless of experience level.
- Continually supervise young children and inexperienced swimmers; do not become distracted with cell phones. Assign adults as water watchers and have them supervise without distraction for short intervals before switching off with another adult; never assign another child to this role.
- Teach children to ask for permission before approaching the water
- When at the ocean, pay attention to signs that may indicate dangerous conditions such as strong currents or riptides
- Pools at home should be fenced, and ladders should be removed when no adult is supervising so that children do not find their way into the water. Additionally, if the pool area can be accessed from inside the home, be sure to lock doors or add fencing to limit access to children. Many drowning deaths occur when the child is not expected to be swimming; be vigilant about limiting access to pools.
- Do not swim alone, no matter how strong a swimmer you are.
- Do not consume alcohol while swimming or driving a boat.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends that parents be mindful of toilets and bathtubs as drowning risks for young children. The Academy recommends toilet locks, emptying water from any buckets used for bath time — or car washing as five-gallon buckets are drowning hazards for kids– and not leaving young children in bathrooms unsupervised.
Recognizing when a swimmer is in distress is another important part of water safety. If a child is missing near water, check the water first as drownings can happen very quickly. If a swimmer is vertical in the water and unable to tread water, appears to not be moving in a forward direction despite attempts to do so, or is floating face down, alert a lifeguard if one is present and remove the person from the water. If the swimmer is unresponsive, begin CPR and continue until help arrives. If there is an AED available, thoroughly dry the swimmer before using.
Here’s a fun video to help teach kids about staying safe this summer.