Whether you are heading out to your lakeside cottage or just taking a dip in the many swimming pools in your midst, knowing swim safety guidelines could mean the difference between life and death. Even the calmest waters can turn deadly when swimmers do not heed the safety rules. So, take the time to learn what you need to know to keep yourself and others safe in the water this summer and beyond.
Learn What Drowning Looks Like
Drowning never looks like it does in the movies. Instead of splashing around and waving their arms, people who are drowning are completely silent and stiff in the water, allowing those around them to misinterpret the situation. Within 60 seconds, they could slip out of sight under the water line, unless someone steps in, that is.
While near the water, always watch out for people who:
- Are completely silent
- Have their arms out to the sides
- Hold their bodies straight up and down
- Pop up and down enough to get a tiny breath of air
By remembering these telltale signs, everyone can watch out for each other and quickly rescue those in need of help.
Gauge Everyone’s Swimming Abilities
Before heading out for a swim, always have a brief discussion with your group to gauge their swimming abilities. If anyone does not have much swimming experience, provide them with a life jacket and encourage them to wear it whenever they go near the water’s edge. Make sure the life jacket fits them snugly and does not ride up when they get in the water. Also, consider having your loved ones take swim classes before the season starts to learn lifesaving skills that will serve them well through the years.
Remind Kids to Ask Before Entering the Water
No matter their swimming ability or willingness to keep their life jackets on, kids should always have a pair of adult eyes on them while they are near the water. Teach all the youngsters in your group to ask if they can go for a swim before getting anywhere near the water’s edge. Also, assign the adults in the group with a kid or two to watch, spreading out the duties evenly to keep everyone well accounted for.
Favour Places with a Lifeguard on Duty
Even with adults looking out for the kids in the group and each other, it is helpful to have a trained lifeguard on duty watching the crowd. Lifeguards are trained to spot the signs of someone in distress and respond in an appropriate manner. You can never be too safe while swimming, so choose areas with that post lifeguards all day over ones that don’t.
Keep Alcohol Out of the Equation
Alcohol and swimming simply do not mix. Keep all beverages non-alcoholic to maximize the swimming safety of everyone in your group. Remember to bring lots of water to keep everyone well-hydrated since swimming is a lot more taxing than it feels in the moment.
Check the Water for Hazards Before Diving In
Before diving in, it is important to check for hazards and make sure the water is safe for swimming. If swimming in a lake or other natural body of water, check water conditions on official websites to avoid toxic algae and other hazards. Also, check for rocks, debris, and other objects in the water that could cause injury to those hopping in.
Always Fence Off Household Pools
If you decide to skip the lakes and public pools in favour of building a swimming pool at home, make sure to include a tall, secure fence in your budget. All household pools must be surrounded by a fence to keep pets, kids, and vulnerable individuals far away from the water.
Depending on local laws, the fence must stand at least 1.5 metres tall plus have a non-climbable design and an automatically-closing door. After completing this upgrade, don’t forget to report the change to your home insurance company to maintain the right coverage levels.
When you mind all these safety tips for swimming, you can keep your adventures lighthearted and fun for all. Let everyone in your group know how to stay safe by the water, especially how to spot the signs of drowning.