Water Safety Tips from SwimWest & the American Red Cross
In & Around Your Home
- Empty cleaning buckets when they are not in use
- Never leave a child unattended in a bathtub or hot tub
- Always close your toilet seat lids
- Empty kiddie pools when they are not in use
- Enclose the pool completely with a self-locking, self-closing fence with vertical bars. Openings in the fence should be no more than four inches wide. The house should not be included as a part of the barrier. The gate should be constructed so that it is self-latching and self-closing
- Never leave furniture near the fence that would enable a child to climb over the fence
- Set water safety rules for the whole family based on swimming abilities (for example, inexperienced swimmers should stay in water less than chest deep).
- Always keep basic lifesaving equipment by the pool and know how to use it. Pole, rope, and personal flotation devices (PFDs) are recommended
- Keep toys away from the pool when it is not in use. Toys can attract young children into the pool
- Never let your children swim unattended in any type of backyard pool. Your eyes must be on the child at all times. Adult supervision is recommended
- Install a phone by the pool or keep a cordless phone nearby so that you can call 9-1-1 in an emergency.
- Learn Red Cross CPR and insist that babysitters, grandparents, and others who care for your child know CPR.
- Post CPR instructions and 9-1-1 or your local emergency number in the pool area.
- If a child is missing, check the pool first. Go to the edge of the pool and scan the entire pool, bottom, and surface, as well as the surrounding pool area
- Know how to prevent, recognize, and respond to emergencies
At the Beach Read and obey all rules and posted signs. Swim in areas supervised by a lifeguard. Be knowledgeable of the water environment you are in and its potential hazards, such as deep and shallow areas, currents, depth changes, obstructions and where the entry and exit points are located. The more informed you are, the more aware you will be of hazards and safe practices. Pay attention to local weather conditions and forecasts. Stop swimming at the first indication of bad weather. Children or inexperienced swimmers should take precautions, such as wearing a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal floatation device (PFD) when around the water. Never leave your children unsupervised on the beach. Watch out for the dangerous ‘too’s’ — too tired, too cold, too far from safety, too much sun, too much strenuous activity. Watch for signs of heat stroke: Heat stroke is life-threatening. The person’s temperature control system, which produces sweating to cool the body, stops working. Wear foot protection. Many times, people’s feet can get burned from the sand or cut from glass in the sand. There can also be hazards on the bottom of the water that you do not see. Set water safety rules for the whole family based on swimming abilities (for example, inexperienced swimmers should stay in water less than chest deep). Know how to prevent, recognize, and respond to emergencies.
On the Boat
- Alcohol and boating don’t mix. Alcohol impairs your judgment, balance, and coordination — over 50% of drownings result from boating incidents involving alcohol. For the same reasons it is dangerous to operate an automobile while under the influence of alcohol, people should not operate a boat while drinking alcohol.
- Look for the label: Use Coast Guard-approved life jackets for yourself and your passengers when boating and fishing.
- Develop a float plan. Anytime you go out in a boat, give a responsible person details about where you will be and how long you will be gone. This is important because if the boat is delayed because of an emergency, becomes lost, or encounters other problems, you want help to be able to reach you.
- Find a boating course in your area (U.S. Power Squadron, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, US Sailing, etc) — these courses teach about navigation rules, emergency procedures and the effects of wind, water conditions, and weather.
- Watch the weather: Know local weather conditions and prepare for electrical storms. Watch local news programs. Stop boating as soon as you see or hear a storm.
- Know how to prevent, recognize, and respond to emergencies.