Lake, Ocean, and Pool Safety
Swimming is a popular way to beat the heat without breaking the bank, but before you take the plunge into a pool, lake, or ocean, remember to take the right water safety precautions. Follow these recommendations and guidelines so you never find yourself "in over your head."
Plan and Prepare
- Check the weather before going to the beach, lake, or pool. If there is any sign of an approaching storm, avoid being trapped near the water.
- Look up surf and tide conditions before heading to the ocean, and pay attention to beach warning flags that indicate dangerous conditions. If a red flag is raised, the water is highly hazardous; if a double red flag is raised, the water is closed to the public.
- Always apply waterproof sunscreen. Reflections off the water can lead to sunburns even on a cloudy day. Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes when you aren't in
- Make sure that you stay hydrated and have access to drinking water. Dehydration can lead to headaches or heat stroke, even when you are surrounded by water.
- Don't drink alcohol if you plan on swimming. Alcohol impairs motor control, affects judgment, and causes dehydration—all of these factors can cripple even the best of swimmers.
- Always bring a cell phone or two-way radio so that you can reach emergency responders if needed.
Look Before You Leap
- Steer clear of murky water that may hide dangerous underwater objects, drop offs, or predatory and poisonous animals.
- Avoid swimming near piers, pilings, and diving platforms — the ropes and nets that often hang from these structures could cause you to become trapped underwater.
- Never dive into a body of water headfirst unless it is designated for safe diving. Thousands of injuries occur every year from swimmers diving into shallow waters.
- Remember that the distance you swim away from a beach or boat is the same distance you will have to return, so don't get caught in open waters with no energy to swim back.
- Choose pools and beaches that are monitored by CPR-certified lifeguards, and always heed their instructions.
Watch Where You Swim
- Don't venture into deep water without knowing how to swim well. There are many organizations that offer swimming lessons, such as your local Red Cross chapter.
- If you find yourself caught in a current, swim gradually across the direction of its flow, as this will provide the least resistance.
Always supervise young children while they swim — even if a child swims well, he or she can lose control if left unattended for a few moments. Make sure each child wears a flotation device while near the water.
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