It's summer, and it's time to hit the cool water to stave off that hot sun. Whether it's floating, boating, or just taking a dip with friends and family, swimming safety should always be a concern.
According to the National Safety Council, 600 people annually drown in pools, over half of which are residential. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) adds that 75% of the people injured in pools are under the age of 19 and 2/3 of them are male.
Why are these statistics so high? There are quite a few factors that contribute to the injury or drowning of so many. The environment plays a big part in safety. Often a pool is not well guarded, or a gate is left open that can lead to a really unfortunate disaster. Other problems can involve a lack or awareness or education about pool safety and swimming in general. Here's what you can do.
- Check for life saving equipment in the pool area.
- Is there a lifeguard on duty at the pool?
- Pay attention to the water safety rules posted.
- Do not leave a child unattended or out of reach.
- Install a 4ft or taller fence around the pool/spa area with a door alarm on the self closing, self latching gate.
- Make sure there is nothing near or on the fence, like bushes or non-vertical bars, that will enable someone to climb over.
- There are also surface wave and underwater alarms available to be installed for increased safety.
- Check that you have compliant drain covers. Drain entrapment is a hazard when it comes to endangering a life.
- Mark water depth to keep everyone aware of where they can and cannot dive or swim if uncomfortable.
- Keep toys away from the pool area when it's not in use, to discourage children from returning to the area unsupervised.
- Use nonslip materials around the pool area, and establish and enforce rules regarding behavior in and around the pool.
- Keep up with pool maintenance.
- Maintain pool and spa covers.
- Pay attention to chemical levels in the water to avoid infections and/or rashes.
General Preventative Measures
- Teach yourself and your children to swim, the sooner the better.
- The Red Cross and most local gyms and pools offer classes for all ages.
- Understand the basics of life saving so you can assist if need be.
- CPR courses are encouraged, and can be incredibly helpful in a scary situation.
- Pay attention to the environment.
- Where are the people you came with? Can you reach them if need be?
- Have a pool safety kit.
- Include a first aid kit, scissors incase someone needs to be cut free of something, charged portable phone, and floatation devices.
- If out by the lake/ ocean or on a boat, wear a life vest.
- Stay hydrated and protect your skin.
- No one should swim alone, no matter how experienced or independent. Having a friend present could save your life.
- If someone is missing, check the water first.
The best thing you can do, is make sure both you and your party know how to handle being in the water. Knowing how to swim is the number one preventative measure against injury and drowning. A CDC study in 1994 concluded that 30-50% of Americans cannot swim, placing themselves in easily preventable danger. If something does happen, be prepared and, when you can, report hazards and pool related injuries to the CPSC by calling 800.638.2772 to make sure it doesn't happen again to someone else.
For more safety and health tips for the summer, check out our blog at Advanced Physical Medicine.