Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Beach and Lake Safety Tips

In the wake of a devastating drowning at a local beach this past weekend, I felt that it was necessary to post about summer safety.

While you enjoy the water and the beach remember that everyone is at risk for drowning. This is something I have told both my children for the past few years. We love and enjoying the lake at our community beach. However, before leaving the car, I always tell them "safety first, fun second". My daughter is not allowed in without a life vest and this is Handsome's first year without one but he is not a strong swimmer which is why, I am never more than an arms length away.

There are life guards stationed and we never go unless there is one however, I do not put the life of my children in their hands. I stand in the water with my kids and watch both of them like a hawk. Friends come down and I say "hello" but I am not there to socialize. There are probably a few who find me unsocial but my children's safety will always be first. Even at the Mom and Tot group I attended before the kids were in school, I was polite but always just watched my kids.

The life guards at the beach often are texting, reading books, listening to their i-pods or talking their friends. For the past two years I have approached the teens and young adults who guard at my beach to talk to them about drowning. I am no expert by any means but if someone doesn't say something who will? My speeches usually just talk about how children don't shout help when they are drowning. They are panicing and usually don't put up a struggle that would appear as if someone is in distress. They will silently struggle and then slip under the water. My talk falls usually on deaf ears and they probably talk about me as soon as I walk away but I can't help it. It is not that I expect them to watch my child but I do expect them to earn the salary that the community pays them for the season. They are making nice money to sit, eat, talk, read and text. But, if you are going to sign on for this job, BE ALERT!

It is always amazing to me how many of the moms in my local area, read while on the beach, socialize the whole time they are there, or just drop their kids off at the beach. I am not talking about the moms of teens either. I am talking about children between the ages of  5-12. It just amazes me that they trust in the lifeguards.

Drowning is the second most common cause of death from injuries among kids under the age of 14. Drowning can happen so fast — sometimes in less than 2 minutes after a person's head goes under the water. That leaves very little time for someone to help. [Source].
  • Never swim alone, and don't swim too far from shore. A trained lifeguard is the best safety factor. Even good swimmers can have an unexpected medical emergency in the water.
  • Enter the water feet first before diving to ensure the area is deep enough.
  • Supervise children at all times, even if they're simply wading by the shore. A strong wave can sweep them off their feet.
  • Stay within designated swimming areas. Don't swim near piers, pilings, platforms, docks, fishermen or tethered boats.
  • Exercise caution when swimming in areas between sandbars or near steep drop-offs.
  • Avoid swimming in areas with schools of small fish, which can attract predator fish. Diving seabirds indicate areas to avoid.
  • Drainage ditches and arroyos for water run-off are bad places for swimming because after heavy rains, they can develop strong currents.
  • Avoid being in the water at dusk or nighttime.
  • Beware of rip currents and undertow. These turbulent currents can pull you into deep water away from the beach.
  • Remain calm if caught in a strong current. Swim parallel to the beach until you're out of the current, then swim to shore.
  • Heed warning flags at public beaches. Red flags mean no swimming because of hazardous conditions.
  • Pack a bag with waterproof sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher), water shoes to guard feet from heat and sharp objects, plenty of water, a hat and sunglasses.
  • Learn first aid and CPR. "While the above tips can help prevent emergencies, it is important to know what to do if a situation arises," Vinson said. 
Teach your child proper beach etiquette and safety. There are things I am constantly telling my two beside Safety first, fun second. They are:
  • Never Swim Alone
  • Don't swim out too far
  • Always wear water shoes
  • Never pretend to drown
  • Don't scream 
  • Don't throw rocks
My daughter is a screamer and I remind her constantly, that if you scream and the lifeguard thinks this is something you do all the time, they won't check on you if you scream and really need them.

Enjoy your beach time but remember to be safe. That book or conversation CAN wait until your children are out of the water.

1 comment:

  1. So sad for that family in your community.
    Kids can get hurt so quickly around water. Thanks for the reminders to be vigilant and alert at all times. Too many parents aren't!

    ReplyDelete

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