Swimming is among life's greatest pleasures. Not only does it offer physical and health benefits, it is something you can enjoy with the whole family or friends. But like many things in life, it does come with risk.
Drowning — according to research done by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention — is the 2nd leading cause of unintentional-injury death for children aged between 1 to 14 years, and the 5th leading cause for people of all ages. Therefore, water safety ought to be a concern whether you are swimming in the beach or in a private pool.
The good news however, is that most swimming-related injuries and drowning incidents are preventable if you follow these simple swimming safety and survival tips;
Swim Only When there is a Lifeguard on Duty.
When swimming in water bodies other than private pools, ensure they are designated for swimming and that there is a lifeguard on duty. Parents of non-swimmers or young children should supervise them carefully even when there’s a lifeguard present. All swimmers must follow the lifeguard’s directives and respect the swimming rules in their environment.
Don’t swim if under alcohol or Drugs.
Even good swimmers succumb to effects of drugs and alcohol while in water. This is because alcohol and drugs impair coordination andjudgement and raise the chances of drowning or injury. As tempting as catching some alone time in your backyard pool, a deserted ocean or lake, don’t do it. Accidents do happen even to strong and healthy people who are great in swimming. Always swim alongside a friend in a private pool or a lifeguard in any other body of water. Swimming in a lake, river or pond always comes with great risks of exposure. This is because unlike swimming pools, these aren’t chlorinated or disinfected. They pose an even higher risk after heavy rains when there are elevated bacteria levels due to faecal matter washed into the streams and lakes.
Don’t Swim During Thunderstorms.
Never swim during thunderstorms. Follow your lifeguard’s instructions on exiting the swimming pool. When swimming in residential pools, exit the water the moment you hear a thunderstorm. Lightning strikes water often and bearing in mind that water conducts electricity it poses great risk to serious injuries or death.
Avoid Diving Headfirst.
Don’t dive headfirst to murky or shallow, or water with an uncertain depth. Diving into shallow water causes drowning and injuries. Diving to murky waters such as lakes, ponds or quarries without good knowledge of their depth or the underwater environment is hazardous. Objects such as Rocks present in water are great hazards and that’s why it's best to get into water feet first. Always check the spot carefully before entering slowly and feet-first. The spot should be checked each time before entering the lake or pool, because swimming conditions and surroundings do change. You might not be able to see underwater objects, swimmers or toys.
Refrain From Horseplay.
As fun as swimming with family or friends, avoid horseplay whether it’s dunking, hanging onto other people or allowing people to hang onto you while you are in water. Horseplay leads to injury in the water, and thus increases the chances of drowning. Tumbling and wrestling in a lake or pool is dangerous because you could hit your head against floors or pool walls and knock yourself unconscious. If you don’t get help, you could drown very quickly.
Use appropriate Flotation Devices.
Never use inflatable toys, air mattresses, rafts and water wings as lifesaving devices. Only life preservers and approved life jackets should be used. What’s more, always wear life jackets when boating, even if it’s close to land. Don’t use air-filled aids (such as "water wings") as a replacement for life preservers. Using air-filled aids can give you a false sense of security, which might raise the chances of drowning. These aids are toys and aren’t designed for use as personal-flotation devices. After all, they can deflate when they get punctured or unplugged.
CPR First Aid and Pool Fences.
It’s a great idea for adults to learn basic CPR and first aid. Rescue measures could be the difference between living and drowning, especially for families who own private pools. As for pool fences, it’s recommended that they are four-sided and at least four feet high with self-latching, self-closing gates that open outward and are unreachable by children.
Notice any health restrictions.
Guests with heart conditions, back or neck problems or prevalence towards pregnancy may not ride high speed or rapid descents. If you are weak or a non-swimmer, always put a life vest on. It is nothing to get embarrassed about and most facilities offer life vests at no charge.