Wellness Matters

Follow These Rules to Stay Safe Around Water

July 09, 2015

Thomas Thekkekandam, MD, ABFM, CAQSM

ThomasThekkekandam, MD, ABFM, CAQSM
Sports Medicine Specialist
Cone Health Primary Care at MedCenter Kernersville

It’s no surprise that the first rule of water safety is knowing how to swim. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children learn to swim between 1 and 4 years old. Adults who never learned can find more options for lessons than ever before at community pools and the YMCA. Why not make the call today and schedule a class?

Even if you’re a good swimmer, accidents happen. As we prepare for pool parties and picnics at the lake, it’s a good idea to review water safety tips.
Safety for Kids
  • Adults should supervise children constantly around any body of water, even if lifeguards are on duty. Never leave them at the beach or a public pool without a responsible adult you can trust to supervise them.
  • Because drowning occurs quickly and quietly, avoid distractions (yes, cell phones too) when you’re supervising little ones around water. 
  • If a child goes missing, check the water first. Seconds count. 
  • You should be close enough to touch a pre-school child who is in the water.
  • Teach children to ask permission every time they go in the water. 
  • Don’t expect floats or foam toys to take the place of life jackets. They’re not designed to keep swimmers safe.
  • Don’t let kids or any swimmers hold their breath for long periods of time underwater. They could pass out and drown.
Ah, Summer! Full of Potential, Yet Fraught with Peril

If you have a pool, the safest approach is to have a fence surrounding the entire pool area with locked gates that children can’t open. If this is not possible, put alarms on any doors or windows that can give kids access to a pool. Other safety tips for backyard pool owners:
  • Never prop the gate open near a pool.
  • When it’s time to go inside, remove all floats and water toys that could tempt young children to come back to the pool unattended.
  • Remove any structures that provide access to the pool, such as outdoor furniture or playground equipment.
Safety for everyone
  • Keep rescue equipment and a first-aid kit beside the pool. 
  • Learn CPR, because you won’t have time to wait for paramedics to arrive in a drowning accident. Remember that going four to six minutes without oxygen can cause permanent brain damage or death. 
  • Don’t drink alcohol. It impairs your judgment as well as your balance and coordination. Consider this: alcohol use is involved in up to 70 percent of water-related deaths. 
  • Have a phone nearby in case of an emergency.
  • Don’t swim alone. You never know when you could be in a life-threatening situation in the water.
  • Wear a life jacket every time you go boating. The vast majority of people who die in boating accidents were not wearing a life jacket.


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