The weather is getting warmer, the end of the school year is almost here, and thoughts are turning to a summer of fun in the water. The American Red Cross is urging everyone to learn how to swim and to learn water safety and lifesaving skills that can help save a life.
According to a recent Red Cross survey, more than 70 percent of those contacted are planning to participate in water-related activities this summer. Almost half of parents with children, between the ages of 3 and 17, plan to enjoy the water in an area where no lifeguard will be on duty.
“With so many families planning unsupervised water activities, the Red Cross is urging families to make sure everyone learns how to swim well,” said Connie Harvey, manager of Aquatics Technical Development. “Most water-related accidents can be avoided by knowing and following basic safety rules. Our swimming and water safety program teaches children and adults how they can be safe in and around the water and how to swim skillfully and safely.”
The survey also found that nearly one in three parents believes that "floaties" are an okay substitute for proper supervision. The Red Cross stresses that this is not the case, that “floaties” do not replace a trained adult actively watching over the water activities.
Water safety is especially important for pool owners, as almost ten percent of people surveyed reported they nearly drowned in a private pool. Pool owners should know what equipment to have on hand and what to do in case of an emergency to make the home pool or hot tub environment as safe as possible. Home Pool Essentials: Maintenance and Safety is a new online course developed by the American Red Cross and the National Swimming Pool Foundation that can help home pool and hot tub owners learn how to take simple steps to create a safer environment.
You can follow these simple steps to enjoy the water safely this summer:
- Learn to swim well. Almost two million people of all ages learn to swim each year with Red Cross programs.
- Always closely supervise children whenever they are near any body of water. Weak or inexperienced swimmers should wear U. S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets anytime they're around water.
- Know how to respond to an emergency (including lifesaving CPR skills), how to tell if a swimmer is in distress or is drowning, and how and when to call for emergency help.
- If you have a pool or hot tub, keep lifesaving gear handy. Always have on hand a ring buoy, life jackets, rope, pole or other object that can be used to help a person in trouble. Be sure to have a first aid kit, cordless phone and emergency contact information by the pool.
Contact your local Red Cross chapter for more information on learning to swim, water safety, home pool safety, first aid and CPR classes. For more information on how to stay safe in the water this summer, visit www.redcross.org.