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Tips and tricks for a safe and happy summer

Updated on May 26, 2015

Pool, beach, boat, all fun, but dangerous- how to stay safe

Let's start with rule #1. If you can not swim, do no go in water above your waist or chest. Pools are required to have a number clearly marked indicating the depth of the water, if your local pool is missing this, or a deep water buoy indicator it will be shut-down until it complies with the NSPF guidelines.

If you are unable to swim as an adult, there are so many places that teach water safety and swim lessons. I happen to know most pools have classes for adults or teenagers, and I taught many people to swim over the years. The extra step as an adult that is so difficult to get into those classes are pride and the fear of failure. The most difficult is the fear. We as adults know we can drown and our minds are much more skeptical that we'll be able to learn- what's that saying? Oh yes, old dogs- new tricks- it's simply not true.

Fear no more!!

Get signed up and learn! The confidence and pride that comes from being able to swim is paramount. I've noticed kids that completely change, 100% after learning to swim. They feel as though nothing can stop them! Adults feel the same way, but with a little hesistation because they know if they panic while swimming- it's all for not.

Children around the pool need constant supervision. Don't let them run around the wet concrete or tile deck. It makes no sense to see kids bloody and teeth missing or through their lip because they couldn't listen to a few simple rules that you don't enforce. The lifeguard is not - I REPEAT- NOT your babysitter. They're watching every single person in the pool and around the deck, not focusing on your child singularly.

The negligence and lack of parenting at the pool disgusts me. If you think I'm over-reacting then you strap on a red suit and pull over a dozen babies out of a 2 foot toddler pool while the mother is 4ft away yapping to her friend not paying one bit of attention that little Suzy or Bobby has been under water for 10 seconds. That's merely just the baby pool too...

PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR CHILD, EVEN IF THEY KNOW HOW TO SWIM

This is where I get frustrated. Your child is not an olympic swimmer. Things happen, they get tired, rough housing and playing around in the deep end, and it happens quickly. Even swim team, or marines are not exempt. A girl hit her head on the wall during swim practice and now she can't remember her mother along with many other heath effects. A marine was doing breath-holding exercises and died on the bottom of the pool due to lack of oxygen. No one even saw him, in a pool with lifeguards- another swimmer recovered the man.

I could tell scary stories all day, but just remember this fun little fact- there are no lifeguards for any other sport or activity. Safety first!


The Beach

Keep in mind the beach has the same rules as the pool, then keep in mind it's much, much more dangerous. If you get pulled under the water at the beach, someone is not going to find you right away. Lifeguards are trained to recover bodies, not people, at the beach.

Here are some tips for a safe beach trip:

#1-Stay close to shore! This may seem obvious, but you'd be surprised at the "look how far out I can go" mentality. I have a better idea, let's not and say we did.

#2-Heed the warnings of rough surf or undertow. If caught in an undertow do not panic, swim parallel to shore. As a child I was pulled under in Chincoteague, and just as I was about to drown my father pulled me out. He understood to watch us closely, and I'm alive because of him.

#3-If you're not a strong swimmer, don't get in. Sure get your feet wet but even going up to your knees is dangerous. Waves can easily knock you over and it's panic from that point on. Of course you can stand up, but people wouldn't die if that was the case. Those who feel as those they are drowning do not think clearly and in many ways end up making it much worse.

#4-If you see someone struggling, get assistance and do not get above your head to save them. They will climb you like a tree- then who's underwater?

The Boat

My father has a fishing boat. He has ever since I was born. I grew up in, on, around the water my whole life. The boat is probably given the least amount of concern for safety when it's probably one of the most dangerous activities you can participate in.

RULE #1

NEVER GO OUT ON THE BOAT ALONE. Enough said.

Well, kind of- Also make sure your captain, or driver is EXPERIENCED. The driver or owner of the boat needs a license to drive and has specific safety regulations. They must have life-jackets on board for every person and certain safety objects, like an orange buoy. Check out the regulations for each state with a simple google search.

RULE #2

Let someone know where you're going, and when you expect to be back. If something happens and you don't return they to look for you and where. Cell-phones rarely have a good reception on the water. Remember 911 does not need a perfect reception, also the boat should have a radio, educate yourself before you go out and about!

RULE #3

Never rough house or jump on a boat, you could go right through the bottom of it! In terms of that, also never jump head first off a boat. There are many things that could go wrong, even if you check the depth- a tree or limb maybe hiding under the water. Feet first always.

Other things to keep in mind:

It is not acceptable to drinking and drive- especially on a watercraft. This almost always spells disaster. I was actually pushed off the front of a moving boat by a drunk friend- drinking and boating kills hundreds of people every year. Just get a nice buzz, no need to get trashed! It's not worth it, trust me.

What to do in a sticky situation?

If your motor dies, you should know where you are and how to call for help over the radio. Other boaters are your best bet, there are many friendly people on the water- ask for help if you need it. Always take an extra tank of gas for smaller boats, make sure big ones have a full tank.

If the boat capsizes or sinks, this will happen in a matter of seconds- not hours like we believe, this is not the titantic we're talking about. Having the lifejackets out and in a reachable area is highly recommended. Children must always have a life-vest on- period. In case of the worst possible scenario- there are tips and tricks to save your life.


Tips and tricks

- Make sure your life-jacket is on correctly

-Assist others if they need help, only after you've gotten your PFD on and secure

-Once in the water, gather together in a circle, lock arms like a dosie-doe dance and spread both legs and connect heels to each person on either side of you. This keeps you warm, stable, and more visible- all things you need to survive.

-Do NOT swim to shore. Unless you know for a fact shore is 25yds/100yds away then do not swim for it. The current along with the illusion of being closer is a death trap. Over the water there are no distance indicators for us to perceive actual depth perception/distance. It is ALWAYS wrong, do not trust your eyes.

-If you told someone where you'd be and when you'd be back then you should not worry about your safety. They will come looking for you!



Remember...

- Get lessons, get educated, pay attention, and you'll have a fun, and safe summer!

Make sure to comment if you have other suggestions or ideas on how to stay safe on the water!

Your turn

Have you personally ever had a near drowning experience?

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