Top 10 Beach and Water Safety Tips
1. Learn to Swim
Learning to swim is the best defense against drowning. Teach children to swim at an early age. Children who are not taught when they are very young tend to avoid swim instruction as they age, probably due to embarrassment. Swimming instruction is a crucial step to protecting children from injury or death.
2. Swim Near a Lifeguard
United States Lifesaving Association statistics over a ten-year period show that the chance of drowning at a beach without a lifeguard protection is almost five times as great as drowning at beach with lifeguards. USLA has calculated the chance that a person will drown while attending a beach protected by a lifeguard at 1 in 18 million (.0000055%).
3. Never Swim Alone
Many drownings involve single swimmers. When you swim with a buddy, if one of you has a problem, the other may be able to help, including signaling assistance from others. At least have someone on shore watching you.
4. Don’t Fight the Current
Some 80% of rescues by lifeguards at ocean beaches are caused by rip currents. These currents are formed by surf and gravity, because once surf pushes water up the slope of the beach, gravity pulls it back. This can create concentrated rivers of water moving onshore. Some people mistakenly call this an undertow, but there is no undercurrent, just an onshore current. If you are caught in a rip current, don’t fight it by trying to swim directly to shore. Instead, swim parallel to shore until you feel the rip current relax, then swim to shore.
5. Swim Sober
Alcohol is a major factor in drowning. Alcohol can reduce body temperature and impair swimming ability. Perhaps more importantly both alcohol and drugs impair good judgement, which may cause people to take risks they would not otherwise take.
6. Leash your Board
Surfboards and body-boards should be used only with a leash. Leashes are usually attached to the board and the ankle or wrist. They are available in most surf shops and sporting good stores. With a leash, the user will not become separated from their board. One additional consideration is a breakaway leash. A few drownings have been attributed to leashes becoming entangled in underwater obstructions. A breakaway leash avoids this problem.
7. Don’t Float Where You Can’t Swim
Non-swimmers often use flotation devices like inflatable rafts or boogie boards to go offshore. If they fall off, they can quickly drown. No one should use a raft or boogie board or any flotation device unless they are able to swim. Use of a leash is not enough because a non-swimmer may panic and be unable to swim back to the flotation device, even with a leash.The only exception is a person wearing a Coast Guard approved life jacket.
8. Life Jackets = Boating Safety
Some 80% of fatalities associated with boating accidents are from drowning. Most involve people who never expected to end up in the water, but fell overboard or ended up in the water when the boat sank. Children are particularly susceptible to this problem and in many states, children are required to be in life jackets whenever they are aboard boats.
9. Don’t Dive Headfirst, Protect Your Neck
Serious lifelong injuries, including paraplegia , occur every year due to diving headfirst into unknown water and striking the bottom. Body-surfing can result in a serious neck injury when the swimmers neck strikes the bottom. Check for depth and obstructions before diving, then go in feet first for the first time , and use caution while body-surfing, always extending a hand ahead of you.
10. At Home, You’re the Lifeguard
Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death in many states for children age one and two. A major reason for this is home pools, which can be death traps for toddlers. many of these deaths occur in the few moments it takes a parent to answer a telephone or doorbell!! NEVER leave a child alone anywhere near a pool. Make sure it is completely fenced, that the fence is locked, and that there is no access from the home to the pool. Don’t let your child or a neighbor’s child get into the pool when you are not there.
Drowning is the third leading cause of accidental death in the United States and the second leading cause of accidental death for persons aged 5-44. For children aged one and two, drowning is the leading cause of injury death. In some states, like California, Florida , Hawaii, drowning is the leading cause of injury death for persons under 15 years of age.
Death by drowning is only the tip of the iceberg for aquatic injury. It has been found that for every ten children who die drowning, 140 are treated in emergency rooms, and 36 admitted for further treatment in hospitals. Some of these never recovered.
Males drown at a significantly higher rate than females (about 5 to 1). For boat related drownings, the ratio escalates to about 14 to 1.
Those are some discouraging statistics on drowning. I hope this post has some impact on all my readers to have a safe and great summer!
City of San Clemente: Pool Programs and Swim Lessons at Ole Hanson Pool
Go to Neighborhood Watch to read about more beach safety tips and programs available to the public!
See you at the beach!