Kids: Swim safely this summer!

It's hot, and it seems the right thing to do is go swimming. While it is true that summer and swimming seem to go hand in hand, it is also true that approximately 2-3 kids under the age of 14 years old die from "unintentional drowning" each and every day. 

Accidental drowning can occur anywhere there is water. Rivers, streams, and lakes may have obstacles such as rocks, deep holes, and fast moving currents not far from shore. In the ocean, there is the surf, currents, and rip tides to worry about. So, how can you enjoy the pool, lake, river, or ocean without risking your life? Here are a few things that might help.

  • Know the area you are swimming in.  Look for hazard signs. Check to make sure you are in an approved swimming area. This is especially important in rivers and streams where rocks, drop offs, tree snags, and tons of broken fishing line and lures are seen.
  • Never swim alone. Always have someone with you. They don't have to be in the water, but they do need to be able to see you and get help if something happens. 
  • If you are a beginner or inexperienced swimmer wear a life jacket. Life jackets or Personal Flotation Devices are designed to keep you afloat until rescuers can get to you. Did you know that it only takes 20 seconds for a child to drown and less than a minute for an adult? Many lakes, rivers, streams, and beaches offer the free use of life jackets. But if you are a Stylista, then buy one before you go swimming and glam it up.
  • Take swimming lessons. All sorts of agencies offer them to all ages. Try the Red Cross, the YMCA, or a local Kids Club. In no time, you can become a "swimmer" instead of a non-swimmer.
  • Swim where there are lifeguards and follow their direction. Lifeguards are there for your safety. 
  • Do not dive into the water headfirst or try back flips, belly flops, swan divers, etc. unless you check the depth of the water first and make sure there is nothing that could injure you. Each year, there are hundreds of kids who are taken to the emergency room because they either dived into too shallow water or hit their head on a rock. Try sliding in feet first to check it is safe before you dive.
  • Do not drink alcohol, smoke pot, or take any other kid of drugs when swimming. You need to be aware of what is going on and be able to act fast if there is an obstacle. Anything that slows your response while swimming can be dangerous.
  • If swimming in a lake, pond, river, stream, or even the ocean, stay away from water plants like algae and reeds. Tangling yourself in these plants is a real possibility.
  • If in the ocean, and you are caught by a rip current, do not panic and do not fight it. Swim parallel to the shore until you are out of it, then swim to shore. If you don't think you can make it in by yourself, wave for help and try to float until you are either free of it or help arrives.
  • Lastly, use plenty of sunscreen, drink lots of water, and have fun. 

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