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As the temperature heats up many head to beaches, pools, lakes, and ponds to stay cool and have fun in the sun. Phelps Memorial Health Center emergency medical provider Ryan Lieske, PA-C, urges all to learn water safety tips and keep safety in mind.

Summer swimming can be a blast, but it only stays fun when everyone stays safe. Lieske adds, "No matter the age or the supposed swimming talent, all children should be watched closely when around bodies of water.”

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that ev­ery year in the United States, there are an estimated 3,960 fatal unintentional drownings and 8,080 non-fatal drownings. More children ages 1–4 die from drowning than any other cause of death except birth defects.

"Unfortunately, only a few seconds without supervision could be fatal. Any body of water can be the site of an accident including rivers, streams, lakes, swimming pools, hot tubs, and more," said Lieske.

Swimming Safety Tips

1. Watch Kids Around Water

  • Keep young children and weak swimmers within arms reach of an adult. Make sure more experienced swimmers are with a partner every time.
  • Avoid distractions when your child is in or around water. Drowning is often silent and can occur in less than five minutes, so it is important to give your child all of your attention. Put away phones and other distractions.

2. Teach Children How to Swim

  • Local YMCA’s and pools have swim lessons
  • Make sure kids learn basic water survival skills such as:
    • Step or jump into water over their head and return to the surface
    • Turn around in the water and orient to safety
    • Float or tread water
    • Combine breathing with forward movement in the water
    • Exit the water

3. Teach children that swimming in open water is different from swimming in a pool

  • Be aware of situations that are unique to open water, such as limited visibility, depth, uneven surfaces, currents and undertow. These potential hazards can make swimming in open water more challenging than swimming in a pool.
  • Wear a life jacket when boating or participating in other water activities. Choose a life jacket that is right for your child’s weight and water activity. Weak swimmers and children who cannot swim should wear life jackets when they are in or near water.
  • Use designated swimming areas and recreational areas whenever possible.

4. Be Sun Smart and Stay Hydrated

  • It’s always a good idea to wear sunscreen and protective clothing to protect against UV rays.  And don’t forget to drink water throughout the day to replace fluid lost to sweat and heat.

5. Learn Rescue Skills and CPR

  • Learn CPR and basic water rescue skills. It is important to know how to respond in an emergency without putting yourself at risk of drowning. Learning these skills may help you save a life. Phelps Memorial Health Center offers CPR courses throughout the year.

Lieske said, “If a child falls into a body of water and is having trouble breathing, call 911 right away and do not wait.  They will help walk you through CPR while medics are on the way.”

“Parents should never rely on floaties, pool noodles, or older children to save a drowning child’s life,” said Lieske.

Children must be supervised in and around water, even if they can swim; adult “water watchers” can observe children — lifeguards should not replace adult supervision, and ad­ults should avoid distractions such as texting and drinking alcohol.

“They may not be waving their arms. Pay close attention. Watch their facial expressions and body movements,” Lieske says. “If someone looks like they are in distress, provide them with a flotation device, remove the person from the water — if it is safe to do so — and provide care as needed.”