Well, there it goes. Did you see it? Winter certainly was in a big hurry to get out of town this year. If you blinked, chances are you missed the low temperatures all together. And now here we are, staring the fast-approaching summer right in the face!
For many of us, the warm sunshine is a most welcome sight. We can’t wait to swap the rain boots for flip flops, pull the cover off our swimming pools, and dive right into California’s greatest time of year (of course this is just one writer’s opinion).
But let’s not get too carried away. While we’d love to pretend that summer never left, it’s important to remember that many things have changed since the last go ’round. Those few months off have left our water skills and abilities a bit rusty, last summer’s crawling infants are this summer’s wandering toddlers, and despite the higher temperatures, that water is still pretty chilly.
There is plenty to consider before having that first pool party or river float, which is why National Water Safety Month couldn’t have come at a better time. Each May, National Water Safety Month reminds us of the need for continual awareness and training in and around the water to protect the health and safety of both ourselves and those around us.
Every year the Red Cross works to keep people safe in and around the water thanks to the skills and talents of our many certified water safety experts and variety of water safety programs and classes. From swim training for all age ranges and lifeguard certification, to at-home pool safety and even canoeing, rest assured that if you plan on being near the water this summer, we’ve got the tools and resources to keep you safe.
As we begin to move through May and get a few steps closer to that pool, let’s remember to take stock of where we made need some refreshers and take the steps necessary to make sure we can stay safe while having fun in the sun. The following tips are a helpful way to get your feet wet (see what I did there?) and get you in that summer time frame of mind.
- Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
- Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone. Even at a public pool or a lifeguarded beach, use the buddy system!
- Ensure that everyone in the family learns to swim well. Enroll in age-appropriate Red Cross water orientation and Learn-to-Swim courses.
- Never leave a young child unattended near water and do not trust a child’s life to another child; teach children to always ask permission to go near water.
- Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone.
- Establish rules for your family and enforce them without fail. For example, set limits based on each person’s ability, do not let anyone play around drains and suction fittings, and do not allow swimmers to hyperventilate before swimming under water or have breath-holding contests.
- Even if you do not plan on swimming, be cautious around natural bodies of water including ocean shoreline, rivers and lakes. Cold temperatures, currents and underwater hazards can make a fall into these bodies of water dangerous.
- If you go boating, wear a life jacket! Most boating fatalities occur from drowning.
- Avoid alcohol use. Alcohol impairs judgment, balance and coordination; affects swimming and diving skills; and reduces the body’s ability to stay warm.