With fall here, many people have traded in their bathing suits for textbooks; however, there is still time to learn about water safety and drowning prevention in order to prepare for time spent around indoor pools this upcoming season. Here are eight quick tips to protect you and your family from unintentional drowning:
1. Learn to swim, and teach your children how to swim. There are many local swimming instruction programs that teach people of all ages basic swimming and water safety skills. In addition to your own personal safety, knowing how to swim will allow you to help someone who may be struggling in the water.
2. Learn CPR. To find classes, check with a local hospital, fire department or American Red Cross.
3. Do NOT allow swimmers to hold their breath for long periods of time; they may pass out and drown.
4. Always swim in areas with supervision, and supervise children in the water at all times. Texting, reading a book or socializing is not fully supervising a child, and it may cause the pool time to end in tragedy.
5. Wear a properly-fitted life jacket. Water wings and noodles are toys; they are not designed to keep swimmers safe. Even the strongest of swimmers must wear a life jacket when boating, water-skiing or engaging in other related activities in natural water settings.
6. Beware of drains. Body parts, clothing and hair may become entrapped in a pool drain, causing a person to remain underwater for long periods of time. The best way to prevent drain-related drowning deaths is to teach others to stay away from drains. If building a personal pool, insist on it being drain-free.
7. Do NOT drink and swim. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 70 percent of deaths associated with water recreation are due to alcohol. Avoid drinking and swimming, and enjoy the water sober.
8. Create barriers. All pools, especially home pools, should have multiple protective layers in order to ensure that an unsupervised child cannot enter the pool and drown.
A four-sided, self-latching gate; a pool safety net or cover; and an alarm system that notifies you if someone enters the pool area should all be installed. Toys and water-filled buckets and containers should also be removed in order to not tempt an unsupervised child.
For more information on how to keep you and your family safe, please visit YouTube and search for “Jacqueline Teed” to view a water safety video. You may also visit the Charleston YMCA to obtain a free water safety pamphlet, which outlines basic drowning prevention and CPR skills.
After watching the video or viewing the pamphlet, please visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/5QL3R5N to complete a survey in order to help improve these materials. Together, we can improve water safety in West Virginia.