Be proactive and plan a safe swim environment
before entering the water
It’s Fall, and, for many of us, the outdoor swimming season is over, and we move indoors. There, we often have the luxury of having a lifeguard watch over us, increasing safety. If you’re not a strong swimmer or have young children, it’s also an opportune time to take lessons. Don’t think you need lessons? It never hurts to become a stronger swimmer, especially if you’re called to save someone from drowning.
Drowning is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. On average, 3,533 people die as a result of drowning each year, and most of those deaths are children under the age of four who drown in backyard swimming pools. You can implement standard water safety precautions to help avoid drowning incidents by being proactive and creating a safe swim environment including: keeping children under constant supervision, enrolling children in swimming lessons, knowing CPR, having pool fences and barriers installed. In rivers, lakes, or the ocean, flotation devices as well as buddy swimmers increase the safety factor as well.
The tragedy of these statistics is nearly all drowning deaths are preventable. However, if a drowning incident does occur it is vital that people know how to react. A proper response could save a life. The United States Swim School Association (USSSA), the preeminent swim school organization in the country, has created guidelines that can be followed during a drowning incident:
- Throw, Don’t Go – a young child struggling in the water can easily cause an adult attempting a rescue to drown as well. Panic can cause a child to obstruct an adult from being able to swim or stay above the water. It is safer to throw a lifesaving device, towel, rope or even a pool noodle to the person in the water, wait until he or she grabs hold and then tow the person safety.
- Call for Help – alert others around you that a drowning is occurring before you take action to try to save the victim. In case something goes wrong it is vitally important that other people know you may need assistance with the rescue.
- Approach from Behind – if you need to enter the water to save someone from drowning, it is best to approach the person from behind to lessen the likelihood the person will grab on to you and pull you under the water as well.
- Wear a Life Jacket – If you are attempting to rescue a drowning victim in an open body of water like a river or lake put on a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket before you enter the water and if possible secure yourself to your boat or shore with a rope. Conditions in the water will be unknown and you will not know if you will be fighting currents or an underwater log. The life jacket could save your life and the victims.
- Watch for Signs of Secondary Drowning – people who experience a drowning incident can still have water in their lungs hours after and need to be watched closely for signs of trouble breathing which could indicate a secondary drowning emergency. If difficult breathing is noted after a drowning, immediately seek medical help and call 911.
About US Swim School Association:
US Swim School Association (USSSA) began in 1988 and has become the largest and preeminent swim school association in the country with over 400 members providing swim and water safety instruction to over 500,000 students each year. To find a USSSA affiliated swim school near you, or for details on becoming a member of the nation’s leading swim school organization visit the US Swim School Association website.