As we return to our normal lives this summer, take caution with you into the water. Whether you are stepping into a swimming pool, a boat, an ocean, or a hot tub—keep these basic tips in mind and you’ll find yourself having fun and being safe while you play. According to Florida drowning accident lawyer Brandon Stein of SteinLaw, “One of the easiest ways to avoid accidents on the water is education before going out. Simple steps can make all the difference between surviving and tragedy.”
Learn About Your Water Area Before Going Out
With a few thousand people drowning every year, and about 800 of those deaths being children, it’s clear that there are some important safety issues that are being assumed. For example, depending on the type of water and the geographic factors of that area, your approach to the water should change. It’s fine to cannon ball into a clear public or private pool, but it’s dangerous to dive into what is perceived as a lake. There have been incidents of young teens diving into a ‘lake’ and finding themselves in the hospital because of spinal injuries—the ‘lake’ was actually a puddle with strong reflective qualities. Other times, children and weak swimmers are dragged under water by heavy unseen currents. Or they dive head-first into a wave and are trapped under the wave pattern, resulting in severe injury or drowning.
Keep an Adult Near and Actively Watching
Even for older teens it is helpful to keep a strong swimming adult on watch when playing around in water. Having a designated look out helps to stop issues before they have a chance to happen, and it relieves anxiety for many people. Further, keeping the designated adult within arm’s reach of children or weak swimmers, helps to foster a safe environment while they learn how to survive the water. Just make sure to change up the designated adult, since complacency comes with comfort.
If Someone Falls In, Don’t Go After Them
In movies, many people see characters jumping into water to save drowning victims. In reality, jumping in after someone puts two people at risk, and may result in two deaths. This is why there are lifeguards and professionals meant to save those who fall into water. Situations where people have fallen into water and there wasn’t anyone around to help, does not call for a movie-style save; it calls for throwing in things that float, or getting things long enough for them to reach. What’s more, is that if there is no immediate way out of the water, and there is no professional around to help if things go south—strongly reconsider swimming in that area.
Do Not go in the Water at Night
Even the most confident of swimmers are careful to enter the water at night, especially if it is open water that is dark. From nocturnal animals awakening to different water currents, the world of water is a holistically different monster than during the day. Keep children away from the water, even the water’s edge, if there is a minor chance that they won’t be watched. Further, keep in mind tides, as entire houses and vehicles have been swept out to the ocean for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. If you do consider getting into the water during the night, make sure it is in a well-lit pool, not the ocean or any other type of open water, and there are still people around to help if needed.
Make Sure Everyone Knows and Understands the Situation
It can be hard to have serious talks with family and children but ensuring that everyone knows what to do and what their role is during an emergency can help to make all the difference. A good rule of thumb is that if a child is able to swim in the water, they’re able to understand the strategy during an emergency. For example, if there is something that goes wrong, have them immediately exit the water and go to a designated meeting area if they are separated.
Speak with family members and friends about what to do if there is an emergency. Adults are the path to safe water time, so making sure that the right people are where they need to be and doing their jobs is an important thing. You wouldn’t want someone unreliable watching the youngest kids, even if they were within arm’s reach. Further, make sure that keystone adults know CPR and basic medical strategies for if things become unsafe.