Summer and water activities go hand-in-hand. But it can also be a deadly combination. Here are a dozen ways to stay safe when your summertime fun takes you near any body of water (swimming or wading pool, lake, ocean or river):
1. Learn to swim. The best thing anyone can do to stay safe in and around the water is to learn to swim. Always swim with a buddy; never swim alone. The American Red Cross has swimming courses for people of any age and swimming ability. To enroll in a swim course, contact your local Red Cross Chapter.
2. Swim in areas supervised by a lifeguard.
3. Read and obey all rules and posted signs.
4. Children or inexperienced swimmers should take precautions, such as wearing a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal floatation device (PFD) when around the water.
5. Watch out for the dangerous “too’s” – too tired, too cold, too far from safety, too much sun, too much strenuous activity.
6. Set water safety rules for the whole family based on swimming abilities (for example, inexperienced swimmers should stay in water less than chest deep).
7. 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.
8. Pay attention to local weather conditions and forecasts. Stop swimming at the first indication of bad weather.
9. Use a feet-first entry when entering the water.
10. Enter headfirst only when the area is clearly marked for diving and has no obstructions.
11. Do not mix alcohol with swimming, diving or boating. Alcohol impairs your judgment, balance and coordination, affects your swimming and diving skills, and reduces your body’s ability to stay warm.
12. Learn CPR. This is a life-saving skill shown to improve outcomes in drowning victims and should be performed while paramedics are en route.