Swim Safety

Photo by Adelaide Hinde.

According to the CDC,“every day, about 10 people die from unintentional drowning.” With this statistic alone, over 3,000 people die annually in the United States due to drowning. The number reaches 4,000 when you include boating incidents. Out of those 4,000 people, about 2,700 children ages 14 and under were admitted and treated in hospital Emergency Rooms. With these numbers reaching into the thousands, it is hard to understand why many people do not take the proper precautions to prevent drowning.

Something as simple as a few inches of water can be the cause of an accidental drowning. Any amount of water that can cover the nose and mouth is enough to put anyone at risk. In the time it takes a parent to walk across the bathroom to get a towel, a child can become submerged. In the time it takes to answer a cell phone call, a child can lose consciousness. After 4 minutes without oxygen, a person can sustain permanent brain damage. Since everything happens in such a short amount of time, most people cannot call for help or voice any concern. They slip silently underwater.

Without the trained eye of a lifeguard or others supervising, the personal risk of drowning nearly doubles. A certified lifeguard has certifications in First Aid, AED, Oxygen administration and many other procedures required for their place of work. Their training makes them some of the best people to spot and help drowning people when a situation arises. They look for excessive splashing, wide eyes, and long durations of time spent underwater. A lifeguard’s main job is prevention.

There are a few different ways to prevent and avoid the risks of drowning. First and foremost, never swim without supervision. Swimming without supervision is the main reason for drowning, since no one is there to see that you are in trouble. A lifeguard or another direct supervisor should be actively watching for any sign of trouble. As an extra precaution, swim with another person or a group. If there is an incident, they can call for help.

Enlist in swim lessons. It is never too late to learn how to swim. Something as simple as rolling onto your back and floating could save your life. Your local YMCA offers many swim lessons for all ages. It is not only life-saving, but it’s a good way to get exercise. Never be embarrassed for bettering yourself.

Always wear a life jacket if you are swimming in water you don’t know the depth of. This is most important when you are on a boat or in a river where the water is not clear and it is hard to see the bottom. This makes it easier to stay on top of the water if you happen to be stranded.

Following any of these tips could save not only your life but the lives of others as well. Remember—as the months begin to grow warmer, many people decide to spend the day in the water, and most of them are oblivious to safety protocols. Share these tips with anyone and everyone. You never know whom it could benefit.