Remember water safety this summer

June 19, 2006
Water activities can provide you, your family and friends with hours of fun. But swimming, boating and diving can also result in drowning or life-threatening injury if you don’t practice good water safety. Here are some tips to make your time in the water more fun:
  • Learn to swim. While knowing how to swim is no guarantee against drowning or injury, it is the best thing anyone can do to stay safe in and around the water. Locally, swimming lessons are available from the American Red Cross, Wilmington Athletic Club, YMCA and YWCA.
  • Never swim alone.
  • Swim in areas supervised by a lifeguard.
  • Read and obey all rules and posted signs. At the beach, check for warning flags.
  • If you should get a cramp, try to float on your back and raise your arm for help. Try to keep the affected parts of your body still.
  • Stay away from piers, pilings, and diving platforms.
  • If caught in a current, don’t try to swim against it. Swimming across it will gradually get you out of it.
  • Children and inexperienced swimmers should wear a Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device (PFD).
  • Know the water environment you are in and its potential hazards, such as deep and shallow areas, currents, depth changes, obstructions and where the entry and exit points are.
  • Set water safety rules for the whole family based on swimming abilities. For example, inexperienced swimmers should stay in water less than chest deep.
  • Pay attention to local weather conditions and forecasts. Stop swimming at the first indication of bad weather.
  • Use a feet-first entry when entering the water unless the area is clearly marked for diving and has no obstructions.
  • Do not drink alcohol while engaging in water activities. Alcohol impairs judgment, balance and coordination; affects your swimming and diving skills; and reduces your body’s ability to stay warm.
  • Know how to prevent, recognize and respond to emergencies.
  • Protect your skin by wearing a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher.
  • Drink plenty of water regularly and often – even if you don’t feel thirsty.
  • Wear water shoes or other foot protection.
  • Never leave a child unobserved around water.
  • For more information about kids and water safety, click here.