There's a good chance your family plans to enjoy time by the pool this summer, at a water park or on the lake. Water safety is important every time you go for a swim, even if it's just to cool off. And it's not just for kids and parents. Adults and teens should also be well-versed and well-prepared on what to do in case of an emergency. Learning to swim, maintaining supervision, wearing sunscreen, avoiding alcohol and knowing how to respond in an emergency are five simple tips to stay safe in the water all summer.
Learn to swim, no matter your age
Knowing how to swim is one of the best ways to stay safe in or around water. Teach children how to swim as early as possible. If you don't swim or you're not a comfortable swimmer, always wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket when you're in or around a pool or open body of water.
Make sure there is constant supervision
Always swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards, and never swim alone. When swimming with kids or supervising swimmers of any age, keep "Arms reach, eyes reach" in mind. Children younger than 6 years old should always be in arms reach of an adult (even if a child is wearing a flotation device). Older, confident swimmers should also be within "eyes reach" meaning they are never out of your sight.
Be sure to limit distractions when monitoring kids in the pool. That might mean putting your phone away or book down, but it could save a life. Finally, make sure you know which adult is watching each child. It's all too easy to think someone else is keeping an eye on swimmers when in reality, no one is supervising.
Keep your skin protected to prevent sunburn and skin cancer. Always apply a broad spectrum, water resistant sunscreen that is at least 30 SPF. Put it on about a half hour before heading into the sun or water. Reapply sunscreen every two hours or sooner if you get out of the water.
Avoid drinking alcohol
Enjoying a drink around the pool or on a boat may not seem like a big deal, but it can lead to dangerous situations. Alcohol impairs judgment, balance and coordination. It affects swimming and diving skills and reduces the body's ability to stay warm – not to mention it hinders your ability to supervise other swimmers and slows your response time.
Know how to respond to a water emergency
Learn how to perform CPR on adults and children and update those skills regularly. If someone is missing—especially a child—check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability. Know how and when to call 911.
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