Sometimes the only thing that can help cool off after a summer day is a nice cool swim. It can be fun and refreshing, but often can lead to dangerous situations.
Learning to swim is one of the best steps that can be taken to be safe around water. Almost two million people of all ages learn to swim each year through Red Cross programs. Contact a local aquatic facility to find out when Red Cross Water Safety programs are offered.
Here are some steps to follow to stay safe around the water:
Swim only in designated areas supervised by lifeguards. Always swim with a buddy, do not allow anyone to swim alone;
Prevent unsupervised access to the water. Install and use barriers around home pools or hot tub;
Maintain constant supervision. Always stay within arm's reach of young children even when lifeguards are present;
Know what to do in an emergency. If a child is missing, check the water first. Know how and when to call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number; and
Have the appropriate rescue equipment, a phone, life jackets and a first aid kit near the pool.
It is important to constantly supervise children when they are near water. Many children who drown in home pools were out of sight for less than five minutes and in the care of one or both parents at the time.
If you have a pool, secure it with appropriate barriers;
Never leave a young child unattended near water, and do not trust a child's life to another child. Teach children to always ask permission to go near water;
Avoid distractions when supervising children around water; and
If a child is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.
The Red Cross and the National Swimming Pool Foundation have developed an online safety course for pool and hot tub owners. Home Pool Essentials help people understand the risks of pool ownership, how to maintain a safer and cleaner pool, what safety equipment is appropriate, how to prevent pool and hot tub entrapment hazards and how to respond to an emergency.
Read more on swimming and water safety and learn where you can take a course on www.redcross.org or call 1-800-REDCROSS. The American Red Cross of Southwestern New York is a United Way Agency.