We would like to offer a brief water safety knowledge checklist to help you prevent serious injuries to yourself or your loved ones. Why today? The heat and humidity, punctuated by the sounds of a thunder storm, confirm that summer is here. The pools are open, and it’s time to get out and enjoy the water. But before you go, review the rules of water safety and prevent serious injuries this summer.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about 10 people die every day from unintentional drowning. Two of every ten of these drowning victims are children under the age of 15. Drowning is the fifth leading cause of unintentional injury death in the U.S. Near-drowning injuries can cause severe brain damage and long-term disability.
More than 200,000 swimming-related injuries are treated every year in emergency room, doctor’s offices and emergency clinics each year. Unfamiliarity with the water conditions, inability to swim/inadequate ability to swim, swimming where there is no supervision, and use of alcohol are factors often associated with drowning.
Every year, more than 1,800 spinal cord injuries result from diving accidents. The outcome of a majority of these injuries is paralysis of all four limbs. Young men are at greatest risk of diving accidents, particularly spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries, from diving into shallow water. Alcohol is often a second factor in these diving accidents.
- Almost 80 percent of drowning victims are male.
- Children between the ages of 1 and 4 have the highest drowning rates. Most of these drownings occur in home swimming pools.
- Drowning is the second-leading cause of death for children under the age of 15, second only to vehicle crashes.
- African Americans, due to limited access to pools, lack of desire to learn to swim, and yet choosing water activities, are at greater risk of drowning. Those aged 5-19 drown in swimming pools at 5.5 times the rate of whites. African Americans aged 11-12 are ten times more likely to drown in swimming pools than whites.
Water Safety Rules
- Use flotation devices, life jackets and water wings with children who lack adequate swimming skills.
- Get swimming lessons for children as early as is reasonable.
- Learn CPR.
- All children should be supervised when in or around water.
- Teach children always to swim with a buddy. Adults should remember this, too.
- Know the difference between water toys and safety devices.
- Don’t mix alcohol and swimming or diving.
- Don’t let swimmers hyperventilate before swimming underwater or try to hold their breath for a long time.
- Never go in the water during a thunderstorm.
- When swimming in natural waters, learn the local water conditions first.
- Never dive in shallow water. Always enter the water feet first.
- Read and follow all posted warnings and rules.
- In natural waters, know and obey colored warning flags.
- Avoid germs in the water: don’t swallow the water, don’t swim with open cuts or wounds, don’t swim if you have diarrhea, and do not swim in cloudy water.
- Don’t try to swim if you are too cold, too overheated, or too tired.
- Don’t swim in a lake or river after a storm if the water seems to be rising or if there is flooding.
- Learn first aid so you can treat any minor injuries.
- Don’t dive where you cannot see the bottom of the pool.
- Dive only with your hands in front of you.
- Don’t dive from the side of an in-ground pool.
- Dive only from the end of the diving board.
- Never dive into an above-ground pool.
- Never dive if you have been using alcohol or drugs (including many prescription medications).
- Never go down a slide head first.
- Never dive in the shallow end of the pool.
- Never dive into less than 9 feet of water depth.
We hope these rules and tips will provide you the water safety knowledge that prevents serious injuries. For additional information, visit the American Red Cross website. Contact the American Red Cross or your local YMCA/YWCA to learn about swimming and diving classes.
We hope you will never need us, but if you or a loved one is injured swimming or diving, despite following all of the rules, call Altizer Law, P.C.