We often say at the YMCA, “The world may be 71 percent water, but children are 100 percent curious.” That’s why, it’s never too early to talk safety.
Spring and early summer are a risky time to enter the water for a few reasons:Air temperature is warm, but water is too cold and poses a risk for hypothermia
– Kids have outgrown last year’s life jackets
– Inexperienced swimmers haven’t used their still-developing skills in month
– Many seasonal beaches and pools are without lifeguards
– The next time you’re headed out to swim, sail, kayak or visit the water, consider these top 10 tips to stay safe:
- Never swim alone.
- Whenever possible, swim when and where there is a lifeguard on duty.
- Stay alert and watch young children. Put down cell phones and stay close.
- Lakes, ponds and rivers remain cold in New England well into July. Be aware of the risk of hypothermia.
- Inexperienced or non-swimmers should wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket. Never depend on inflatable floaties and toys; they are designed to entertain, not to save lives.
- If a swimmer is struggling, use the “reach and throw, don’t go” approach. Extend something to them (a branch, a pole, etc.) or throw them something that can float.
- Avoid the risk of Shallow Water Blackout. Children and adults should not engage in breath-holding activities or vigorous cardiac activity right before jumping into water.
- Beware of changing water conditions. Depth, speed of water and temperature can change particularly after a rainstorm when river waters are high and fast.
- Avoid the risk of a head or neck injury. Never dive headfirst into shallow water, water of unknown depth, water where you cannot see the bottom or an above-ground pool.
- Learn to swim. Infants as young as six months can start swimming lessons. Adults who don’t know how to swim should learn to swim, too.
Jess Lukas, Director of Aquatics at the Greater Burlington YMCA, offers water safety advice in partnership with the University of Vermont Medical Center and UVM Children’s Hospital.