Splashing, wading, and paddling - it must mean a
great day in the water. Playing at the beach, at a water park, by a lake
or in a pool can be a real treat on a hot day. But water can also mean
danger, especially for kids who don't know how to stay safe.
Why Is It Important to Be Safe in the Water?
Fish are able to live and breathe under water, but
people need air to breathe. People drown when too much water gets into
their lungs. When that happens, the lungs can't carry enough oxygen to the
brain and the rest of the body.
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 your head goes under the water -
that often there's very little time for someone to help. Many drownings
and near drownings occur when a kid accidentally falls into a swimming
pool. But accidents can happen anywhere - at someone's home or even at
your own house, and that's why you need to know how to be safe around
Pools are awesome! What could be better than a dip in
the pool and fun in the sun? But remember a pool's sides and bottom are
usually made of concrete, a rock-hard material. A slip or fall could be
painful and dangerous.
Have you seen those big numbers painted on the side
of the pool? Those are called depth markers - they tell you how deep the
water is at that point.
You should always look before you jump into a pool.
You should also only dive off the diving board. Never dive off the side of
the pool unless an adult says that the water is deep enough. The water may
be shallower than you think. If you hit the bottom . . . ouch! You might
get knocked out or you could hurt your neck very badly.
Test the pool's water temperature before you plunge
in. Cold water can shock your body and make your blood pressure and heart
rate go up. You might accidentally open your mouth to yell and
accidentally breathe in some water. Cold water can also slow your muscles,
making it hard to swim.
Here's some other good advice for the pool:
Always have an adult watch you when you are in the pool - even in
your own backyard. Never go in the pool if there is no adult around.
Gates are around pools for a reason - to keep kids away from the
water when there isn't a lifeguard or adult around to watch them. Never go
through any pool gates when they are closed. Stay safe and stay out!
Always obey pool rules.
Swim with a buddy.
If you're learning to swim, check flotation devices to make sure
they are Coast Guard approved.
Walk slowly in the pool area. Don't run.
Swim at a depth that is safe for you. If you're just learning to
swim, stay in the shallow end.
Don't push or jump on others. You could accidentally hurt someone
Toys to help you float come in many shapes and sizes (an inner
tube, air mattress or beach ball, for example). Although they are fun and
can help you while you learn to swim, what they can't do is save a life.
They're toys that can lose air or float away.
Don't chew gum or eat while you swim - you could choke.
Lakes and Ponds
Lots of kids swim in streams, lakes or ponds. But
even though these places are beautiful, they can be dangerous:
Often you can't see the bottom of a lake or pond. It may be shallow
on the edge and then suddenly drop off. So never swim without adult
Although the fish swimming around won't hurt you, some ponds and
lakes may hide jagged rocks, broken bottles or trash. Wear something to
protect your feet.
Watch out for weeds and grass, which can trap even a good swimmer.
If you panic and try to yank yourself free, you may get even more tangled.
Instead, shake and pull your arms and legs slowly to work yourself loose
or call for an adult's help.
If you're going out on a boat, always wear a life jacket
(and have an adult make sure it is Coast Guard approved). Even if you are
a good swimmer, something could cause the boat to tip over and you could
be trapped underneath.
It's hard to resist a day on the beach. Who wouldn't
want to splash in the waves or build a huge sand castle? But even though
it looks calm and peaceful, the ocean can be dangerous. Here are some tips
to keep in mind when swimming at the beach:
Never underestimate the power of the ocean. It isn't like a
swimming pool. The ocean is so large that it's harder to spot you if you
get in trouble. When you first get to the beach, check with the lifeguard
to find out how strong the waves are.
In some places swimmers may encounter strong undertows or ocean
currents. Rip currents are so strong that they can carry swimmers away
from shore before they know what's going on. If you are caught in a
current, swim parallel to the shore (alongside the shore) rather than to
the shore until the water stops pulling you, then swim back to shore. If
you can't get back to the beach, tread water and wave for a lifeguard's
You probably won't see any sharks (although a friendly dolphin may
splash by) where you are swimming, but jellyfish and Portuguese man-o-wars
are another story. These umbrella-shaped, nearly clear animals can grow to
be as large as several feet in diameter! They are often found floating
near the shore. Getting stung is no fun - it can hurt and blister your
skin. If you get stung, tell an adult as soon as possible.
Here's some other good advice for the beach:
Never swim alone!
Always swim where a lifeguard can see you and in areas that are
marked for swimmers to use.
Wear protective footwear, especially on rocky beaches.
Don't swim out too far.
Never fake trouble or calls for help.
Don't swim close to piers. If the water moves suddenly, you could
hit a piling or a rock.
Store drinks in plastic containers at the beach - broken glass
bottles and bare feet don't mix.
Don't turn your back to the ocean - you may be swept into the water
by waves that come without warning.
You're riding down that water park ride with the
spray in your face and you're having a great time, but there are things to
think about, too. Water park safety is an important part of having fun.
Some parks have wave pools that can be pretty rough and you may get in
over your head. Ask the lifeguard on duty or read the signs to see how
high the waves get. Don't swim out too far, and be sure to get out of the
water if the waves get too high or if you are knocked over.
Here are other water park safety tips:
If you don't know how to swim or are not a strong swimmer, make
sure you wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
Read all of the signs before going on a ride. Make sure you are
tall enough, old enough and don't have any of the medical conditions that
might make the ride dangerous. If you have questions, ask the lifeguard.
Always make sure there's a lifeguard at each ride and listen to his
or her instructions. Wait until the rider ahead of you has passed a safe
point for you to go down the slide.
Always go down the water slide face up and feet first. This is the
safe and correct way to ride.
When you go from ride to ride, don't run - it's slippery! Also,
remember that each ride is different. Read each sign and note how deep the
water is in the pool.
But I Know How to Swim!
It's important to know your limits when it comes to
playing in the water. You could develop a cramp (where a muscle in your
body suddenly tenses up and causes pain) or other physical problem that
makes it hard to swim. If you get a cramp, get out of the water for a
while and give your muscles a rest.
Waves can knock you down or push you to the ocean
floor. Stay close to an adult or get out of the water when the waves get
People also get into trouble when they start to panic
or become too tired to swim. Know your limits and respect the water.
Here are some other good water safety tips:
Learn to swim. Ask your parents to contact your local American Red
Cross or community center for information on boating or water safety
Always put on plenty of sunscreen before you go outside. It's also
a good idea to wear sunglasses and a hat to protect your skin from the
sun's harmful rays.
Non-swimmers should stick to water no deeper than their shoulders.
Stop swimming or boating as soon as you see or hear a storm.
Remember lightning is electricity - electricity and water are a dangerous
Don't swim in the dark.