Swimming Safety Rules

Swimming Safety Rules
Swimming is a fun and relaxing activity, but it is important not to let yourself be lulled into a false sense of security. According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 10 people die every day from drowning. More than 25 percent of those affected are children under the age of 14, and four times as many children receive treatment for emergency submersion injuries. Nonfatal submersion can lead to profound brain damage that may include lifelong mental impairment or a permanent vegetative state. With this in mind, it is important to know some rules to keep you and your family safe while swimming.

Know CPR

Accidents can happen to even the most careful person, and knowing CPR can make the difference between life and death for a person who has suffered a submersion injury. CPR allows you to keep someone alive until emergency help arrives and takes over.

Familiarize Yourself with the Water

If you are swimming in the ocean, pay attention to the current. Even a relatively calm current can pull you up or down the beach a considerable distance without you realizing it. If you're caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore until the water quits pulling you away from shore. Whether you are swimming in the ocean or a lake, always jump into the water feet first. Attempt a dive only after you know how deep the water is.

Never Swim Alone

This is an important rule for adults and children both. In an open-water situation, both people should be in the water. While many people believe that having someone on shore counts as not swimming alone, in a large body of open water, someone on shore may not realize there are problems until it is too late.

Check Weather Conditions

Before heading out to swim, it is important to check the weather. Wind can create surface waves that obscure visibility and make swimming difficult. Recent rain stirs up sediment in the water and reduces water clarity.

Teach Children to Swim

The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend swimming as a method to prevent drowning before the age of 5. Children 4 and younger are not strong enough to save themselves in the event of a water emergency. Older children should receive water instruction from a trained swimming instructor.

Ask About Testing

Find out if the recreation area where you are swimming routinely tests its water for bacteria and if it reports the results. Many beaches and lakes that allow open-water swimming routinely test water for enteroccocus, which is an indicator bacterium. If there are high levels of enteroccocus, high levels of human or animal waste are likely in the water. Not all areas regularly test the water, and those that do might not publicly post results. Swimming in water with high levels of bacteria can lead to infectious diseases. To be safe, if you are unsure of the water quality, cover open cuts and don't swim with your head under the water.

Article Written By Amy Hunter

Amy Hunter has been a writer since 1998. She writes about health and lifestyle issues and enjoys writing about hiking, camping, trail running and other outdoor activities. Her work has appeared in "Sacramento Parent," ASPCA's "Animal Watch" and other print and online publications. She is the author of "The History of Mexico" and "Tony Gonzalez: Superstar of Pro Football," aimed at young-adult readers.

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