11 Essential Water-Safety Tips for Summer
Always supervise children in the water, even those who swim well. Very young children and those who are not yet strong swimmers should be under even closer supervision. That means the supervising adult should be within touching distance at all times.
Don't drink and swim. While it may seem natural to knock back a few cold ones at the beach, experts warn that alcohol and swimming should never mix. According to the CDC, use of alcohol by adolescents and adults is a factor in up to 7 out of every 10 deaths involving water recreation. The effects of alcohol are increased by exposure to sun and high heat and can lead to other health issues, such as dehydration.
Stick with Coast Guard-approved life vests, and make sure they fit well. This goes for everyone on any type of watercraft. They’re also important for young kids playing on the beach. Even if there’s no plan to go into the water, it can happen in a flash, and preparation is crucial. Water wings and inflatable vests don’t prevent drowning. For younger children, choose flotation devices with head support and a strap between the legs. They’re not particularly cheap (starting at $30 at Cabela's), but why take a chance?
Know the warning signs of hypothermia. Even in a hot summer, there's a risk because body temperature drops faster in the water than on land. Always check the water temperature before diving in. Shivering and muscle cramps are signs that the swimmer needs to come out of the water right away. Babies are even more vulnerable and should be only in water that's at least 85 degrees.
Be aware of surroundings. Even if a dip isn't planned as part of an outing, it's possible to fall accidentally into bodies of water. Survey shorelines and riverbanks to make sure there is no loose soil or boulders, and keep a close eye on any little ones under your watch.