Monday’s Health: Swimming Safety Tips

I’m ashamed to admit this, but I’ve never learned how to swim.  Even while growing up in Michigan and spending many summer days on the lake, swimming lessons just weren’t a priority. When I think of all the family fishing trips, including our annual mecca to Canada, I’m grateful that we never encountered a single mishap.  Not one.  My parents were always careful to keep me and my siblings suited in a life jacket before ever leaving the dock.

Many families haven not been so fortunate and have had to face  unthinkable tragedy like the accidental drowning that occurred last Tuesday in Novi.  A 31-year-old man and his 3-year-old toddler both drowned in an apartment complex swimming pool.  It’s believed that the toddler was riding his bike when he fell in the pool and drowned.  The father drowned trying to rescue his son.

I cannot begin to imagine the pain this family is enduring right now.  I offer my sincerest condolences.

To my readers, I ask that you take extra precaution when heading out to the pool or beach this summer.  Please note the following  important swimming safety tips from the American Red Cross:

  • Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
  • Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone.
  • 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.
  • Maintain constant supervision.
  • Make sure everyone in your family learns to swim well. Enroll in age-appropriate Red Cross water orientation and learn-to-swim courses.
  • If you have a pool, secure it with appropriate barriers. Many children who drown in home pools were out of sight for less than five minutes and in the care of one or both parents at the time.
  • Avoid distractions when supervising children around water.
  • If a child is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.
  • Have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit.
  • Know how and when to call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
  • Enroll in Red Cross home pool safety, water safety, first aid and CPR/AED courses to learn how to prevent and respond to emergencies.
  • Protect your skin. Limit the amount of direct sunlight you receive between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. and wear sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 15.
  • Drink plenty of water regularly, even if you’re not thirsty. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine in them.



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