Summer fun often means playing in or near water. But in many cases folks don’t take into account the potential dangers involved.
Any area with water, whether it be a pool, stream, river, lake or ocean, poses potential danger, especially to children.
According to the National SAFE KIDS Campaign and the National Safety Council, about 830 children ages 14 and under drown every year. Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional death in children ages 1 to 4, and an average of about 3,600 injuries a year occur to children due to a near-drowning. And most childhood drownings in pools occur at people’s homes.
Remember that young children are at risk of drowning even in shallow water. A parent or other caregiver must an eye on children in or near water at all times, even if there are lifeguards. Looking away for just a moment can lead to disaster.
And it’s not just children. Already this season we’ve seen the tragic death of an adult swimming in Berks County’s Blue Marsh Lake.
Even skilled swimmers can face challenges when they’re in seemingly benign waterways. Area lakes, rivers and streams often have sudden dropoffs or changes in current that can catch people off-guard and put them in danger. The ocean poses its own set of dangers.
Here are a few children’s water safety precautions from the National Safety Council:
* Never leave your child alone in or near water.
* Have your child learn to swim, but remember that does not eliminate the risk of drowning.
* If a child is missing, check the water first.
* Learn CPR and rescue techniques.
* Don’t let kids play around drains and suction fittings.
* Always have a first aid kit and emergency contacts handy.
And here are tips for adults from the National Safety Council:
* Don’t go in the water unless you know how to swim.
* Never swim alone.
* Make sure the body of water matches your skill level.
* If you get caught in a current, don’t try to fight it; stay calm and float with it, or swim parallel to the shore until free.
* Swim in areas supervised by a lifeguard.
* Don’t push or jump on others.
* Don’t dive in unfamiliar areas.
* Never drink alcohol when swimming.
Another common summer danger is excessive heat. The American Red Cross has advice to stay safe when it’s hot outside.
* Never leave children or pets in your vehicle.
* Stay hydrated but avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
* Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
* Avoid strenuous outdoor exercise during the hottest part of the day.
* Take frequent breaks if working outdoors.
* Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.
If someone is experiencing heat cramps in the legs or abdomen, get them to a cooler place, lightly stretch the affected muscle and give them 4 ounces of cool water every 15 minutes.
If someone is exhibiting signs of heat exhaustion (cool, moist, pale or flushed skin, heavy sweating, headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness exhaustion), have them move to a cooler place, remove or loosen tight clothing and spray themselves with water or apply cool, wet cloths or towels to their skin. If they are conscious, ask them to drink small amounts of cool water. Make sure the person drinks slowly. Watch for changes in condition. If the person refuses water, vomits or begins to lose consciousness, call 9-1-1.
Heat stroke is life-threatening. Signs include hot, red skin that may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; vomiting and high body temperature. Call 9-1-1 immediately if someone shows signs of heat stroke. Move the person to a cooler place if possible. Douse or spray the person with cold water, or cover the person with cold, wet towels or bags of ice.