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In The News

Swim Safety and Summer Precautions

May 15, 2013 Health
Source: Texas MedClinic

The first day of summer is June 21, but it’s hard not to think summer is already upon us. The temperatures are rising, schools are wrapping up for the year and graduation season has begun across college campuses. In a few more weeks, community pools will open and families will flock towards all of the places where their kids can swim, splash and play. Since drowning is the second most common cause of death from injuries among kids under the age of 14, Texas MedClinic wanted to share a little more information on keeping your family and friends safe as you get ready for one of summer’s most enjoyable activities.

Drowning can happen fast, sometimes in less than 2 minutes after a person’s head goes under the water. Drowning occurs when too much water gets into the lungs, preventing the lungs from carrying the appropriate amount of oxygen to the brain and the rest of the body.

The first step parents can take is getting their kids familiar with the water and learning water safety. Swim lessons are a great way to encourage water safety from a young age, but no matter the strength of the swimmer, it’s always important to follow swim safety recommendations and use precautions whenever there’s standing water nearby.

Swim Safety Precautions

-Always swim with a buddy

-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.

-Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone. Maintain constant supervision.

-Make sure everyone in your family learns to swim well. Enroll in age-appropriate Red Cross water orientation and learn-to-swim courses.

-If you have a pool, secure it with appropriate barriers. 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.

-Avoid distractions when supervising children around water.

-If a child is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.

-Have appropriate equipment nearby, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit.

Remember, the summer heat is unforgiving. Make sure to stay hydrated and protect your skin from damaging UV rays, even if swimming isn’t on your agenda. Drink water regularly and avoid drinking too much alcohol or caffeine. It might come as a surprise, in a country with plenty of clean drinking water, but ninety percent of Americans are chronically dehydrated. Dehydration is the number one trigger for daytime fatigue and headaches, so drinking water is clearly important as children play and parents supervise their activities.

Protecting your skin from the sun and wearing sunglasses that filter UV light is also critical when spending time outdoors. Sunscreen should always be applied before going outdoors, whether or not your plans include swimming.  The immediate danger of too much sun is sunburn. If you looked at sunburned skin under a strong microscope, you would see that the cells and blood vessels have been damaged. With repeated sun damage, the skin starts to look dry, wrinkled, discolored, and leathery. Although the skin appears to be thicker, it actually has been weakened and, as a result, it will bruise more easily. However, the sun’s most serious threat is that it is the major cause of skin cancer, which is now the most common of all cancers. Doctors believe that most skin cancers can be avoided by preventing sun damage.

So whether your summer plans include a nearby body of water or just grilling out in your own backyard, make sure to follow swim safety practices around water, hydrate more than you think is necessary and wear sunscreen everyday.