When the weather gets warm, many of us take a trip to the beach or jump in the pool to cool off. Swimming is a fun and active way for people of all ages to stay cool in the summer, but it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and make water safety a priority for you and your family.

When you’re at the pool, make sure to swim in areas supervised by lifeguards at all times. Never leave a young child unattended and enforce the buddy system so that nobody is swimming alone. Designate an adult to supervise young children at all times – do not rely on their friends or lifeguards to keep an eye on them for you. If you are in the pool with a young child, stay within arm’s reach and have them wear floating devices or life jackets, especially if they are first time swimmers. Set limits for your family based on swimming ability – have inexperienced swimmers stay in shallow water, and don’t let anyone play near pool drains or participate in breath holding contests.

At the beach, stay alert and check the local weather conditions before you go into the water. Leave the beach for another day if the weather forecast predicts storms, lightning, or high winds. Waves can cause a loss of footing at any time, so make sure you never swim alone and that you are looking out for your friends and family. Keep a lookout for aquatic life, and avoid animals or patches of plants where you are swimming. Take breaks often to stay hydrated and make sure you have enough energy to be in the water, no matter how confident you are in your swimming ability. If you are out on a boat, make sure everyone is wearing a life jacket.

Part of water safety is knowing how to respond to an emergency – every second counts in preventing death or disability. If a child is missing, check the water first. Have a cellphone or telephone nearby in case you need to call 911. Enroll in first aid and CPR/AED courses to learn how to prevent and respond to emergencies. By making water safety a priority, you can ensure that you and your loved ones stay safe while swimming this summer!

Staying safe in the water starts before you even get in the pool. Make sure you take the following steps before taking a dip:

  • Charge your cellphone
  • Pack floating devices (arm floaties, life jackets)
  • Ensure that you and your family have properly fitted bathing suits, that won’t snag or get caught on anything under water
  • Take sunscreen with you and apply it regularly before and during your swim

Sources: American Red Cross. The Health Tip of the Week is for educational purposes only. For additional information, consult your physician. Please feel free to copy and distribute this health resource.