Childhood drownings and near-drownings can happen in a matter of seconds. They typically occur when a child is left unattended or during a brief lapse of supervision. In 1999, 800 children ages 14 and under drowned. For every child that drowns, an additional four are hospitalized for near-drownings. Fifteen-percent of children admitted for near-drownings die in the hospital. Adults can fall victim to drownings as well, often when their judgment is impaired by the use of alcohol or drugs.
Safety Basics For Children
- Swim only if a lifeguard or a grown-up gives you permission.
- Enroll children age 3 and up in swimming lessons.
- Follow the posted rules.
- Check with the lifeguard to find out how deep the water is.
- Always swim with a buddy.
- Never jump or dive unless the lifeguard or a grown-up says it is okay to do so.
- Don't eat candy or chew gum when swimming.
- Never swim at night.
- Get out of the water right away if you hear thunder or see lightning.
When on a boat, everyone needs a seat and his or her own PFD (personal flotation device). Air-filled swimming aids such as inner tubes, water wings, and inflatable rafts are not substitutes for approved PFDs. Children using air-filled swimming aids should always be supervised by an adult within arms reach.
Safety Tips for Adults
- Learn to swim. The best thing anyone can do to stay safe in and around the water is to learn to swim. Always swim with a buddy; never swim alone. The American Red Cross has swimming courses for people of any age and swimming ability. To enroll in a swim course, contact your local Red Cross chapter.
- Swim in supervised areas only.
- Obey all rules and posted signs.
- Watch out for the "dangerous too's"--too tired, too cold, too far from safety, too much sun, too much strenuous activity.
- Don't mix alcohol and swimming. Alcohol impairs your judgement, balance, and coordination, affects your swimming and diving skills, and reduces your body's ability to stay warm.
- Pay attention to local weather conditions and forecasts. Stop swimming at the first indication of bad weather. Know how to prevent, recognize, and respond to emergencies.
Chlorine in swimming pools does kill the germs that may make people sick, but it takes time. Chlorine in properly disinfected pools kills most germs that can cause illness in less than an hour. Chlorine takes longer to kill a few germs which can survive for days in even a properly disinfected pool. This means that without your help, illness can spread even in well-maintained pools.
Tips for All Swimmers
- Please don't swim when you have diarrhea...this is especially important for kids in diapers. You can spread the germs into the water and make other people sick.
- Please don't swallow the pool water. In fact, try your best to avoid even having water get in your mouth.
- Please practice good hygiene. Take a shower before swimming and wash your hands after using the toilets or changing diapers. Germs on your body end up in the water.
Tips for Children or Parents with Young Kids
- Please take your kids on bathroom breaks or check diapers often. Waiting to hear "I have to go" may mean that it's too late.
- Please change diapers in a bathroom and not at poolside. Germs can spread to surfaces and objects in and around the pool and spread illness.
- Please wash your child thoroughly (especially the rear end) with soap and water before swimming. We all have invisible amounts of fecal matter on our bottoms that end up in the pool.