Did you know swimming is the most popular summer activity? Did you also know that a recent Red Cross survey revealed that many Americans lack basic water safety skills? Since swimming is the most popular summer activity, wouldn’t it make sense for more people to know how to stay safe while around water? Especially when almost half of those polled said they had an experience where they were afraid they might drown? (Click here for more from the safety poll: Safety Poll Info Graphic)
Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. Reading this post is a great start to being safer around water.
1. Do you believe that “water wings” are enough to keep children safe in the water when an adult is not nearby?
If you answered yes, you share the same misconception as 67% of the people polled. “Water wings” aren’t life saving devices. Children or inexperienced swimmers should wear Coast-Guard approved life jackets, and children should never be left unattended around water. As someone who works closely with children, I can tell you they need constant supervision!
2. True of False: It’s okay to swim without a lifeguard as long as you are with a buddy.
False! Buddies alone are not enough, but are a good start.
3. Should you enter the water to help a distressed swimmer?
The answer is actually no. But, three out of five people believed this was correct. Entering the water can put the rescuer at risk, so read on for the best way to handle the situation.
4. Do you know the correct steps to take if you believe a swimmer is distressed?
If you don’t, it’s okay; 93% of those surveyed didn’t know either. But it is important to know -this could save someone’s life! So take notes as this will be on the final exam (a.k.a. REAL LIFE)! If a swimmer is in distress:
- Shout for help
- Reach or throw the person a rescue of flotation device and tell them to grab it.
- Call 9-1-1, if needed
- For a more detailed break down, click here (see Reach and Throw, Don’t Go)
5. Do you know how to identify a swimmer in distress?
It’s common for people to believe that a person would scream or splash, but often they can not or do not call for help. They may be too busy trying to keep their head above water to call out.
Some signs a swimmer may be in trouble include:
- Treading water or floating on their back while waving an arm
- Doggie paddling with no forward progress
- Positioned vertically in the water, but not kicking legs
- Underwater for more than 30 seconds
- Floating at surface, face-down, for more than 30 seconds
This only scratches the surface of water safety, but the Red Cross has a lot of literature and print-outs of tips. Here are some good ones:
- Water Safety
- The ABC’s of Water Safety
- Swimming Safely in Lakes, Rivers and Streams
- Information of life jackets can be found here.
- A home pool and hot tub safety checklist can be found here.
- What to do and how to prepare for an aquatic emergency
- Tips on how to be water wise around children can be found here and here.
Test yourself to see if you remember what you’ve just read with the Red Cross Water Safety Quiz!
Remember, this is not a replacement for water safety courses and swimming lessons. For Red Cross classes in you area, visit redcross.org.