– Water Safety - What You Know Could Save A Life

Water Safety – What You Know Could Save A Life

Water SafetyWater safety can be the difference between life and death for many. Whether you have young ones who are just learning how to swim or you’re not a strong swimmer yourself and you get a little concerned about ocean tides, knowing water safety can help you feel more comfortable in the water. However, these tips do not replace safety training from certified professionals and should in no way be a completion of your water safety training – this is just something to get you started on your quest to keeping yourself and others safe in the water this year.

Summer is fast approaching, and that means more time outdoors and more time around water. Swimming can be a great way to stay cool during the hot summer days and can also be a fantastic way to stay active and fit. Though swimming pools and natural waters can be fun to play in, it’s important to recognize the serious risk that swimming in water can pose and take steps to play safe.

Buddying Up

buddyIt’s extremely important to make sure that your children and/or you are always partnered with at least one other person when going swimming. When you swim together, the likelihood of saving a life increases tremendously. For example, if one of you is in an accident, the other can call for help and/or perform CPR, ultimately saving you or your friend’s life.


Taking Swim Lessons

lifevestMaking sure you have received the proper training through swimming lessons can increase your chances of swimming safely in the water and decrease your chance of water-related accidents. Whether you’re 35 years old or 4 years old, it’s never too late to sign up for swim lessons. If you’re interested in registering for swim lessons, the YMCA has aquatics programs for every age and every stage. (Click HERE for more information!)

Get Certified

lifeguardKnowing Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (or more commonly known as CPR) get help you save someone’s life. In water-related accidents such as drowning, this skill can help someone to clear their lungs of water and breathe again. If you have not been CPR Certified, it is highly recommended that you do so as soon as possible. The YMCA partners with the American Heart Association to provide CPR courses to the community. In addition, we partner with the American Red Cross to provide Lifeguard Training courses for those who wish to learn CPR as well as AED, First-Aid Training, and various water-rescue techniques.

Watch Your Diving

diving wellAccording to a water-safety article on, “Diving injuries can cause head injury, permanent spinal cord damage, paralysis, and sometimes even death.” This is why it’s extremely important to make sure that the areas that you are diving into are safe and deep enough. suggests that the best places to do diving are in the “deep end of a supervised pool” because “lakes or rivers can be cloudy and hazards may be hard to see.”

Stay Hydrated

waterHave you ever gone swimming and felt famished afterwards? Swimming burns calories and being in the sun can make you dehydrated as well. Being in the water for extended periods of time can also make you forget to take time to drink. So, it’s important that you make sure that you are drinking the proper amount of fluids during and after being in the water. Dehydration can lead to dizzy spells and light-headedness, increasing your chances of water-related accidents.

Maintain Proper Supervision

familyIt is important that you never leave a child unattended near water. Make sure you are only swimming in waters where a lifeguard is present, however, a guard does not replace the need for a responsible adult to observe young children. According to Water Safety Best Practices from the American Red Cross, in order to help prevent drowning or water-related accidents, “do not trust a child’s life to another child; teach children to always ask permission to go near water.” By training children to ask permission to even go near water, you are helping them to understand the seriousness of water-related accidents and injuries.

Wear Protective Gear

boatAccording to an article on “Unintentional Drowning” from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Most (72%) boating deaths that occurred during 2010 were caused by drowning, with 88% of victims not wearing life jackets.” These statistics are incredibly high and are a cause for concern. The CDC states, “Potentially, half of all boating deaths might be prevented with the use of life jackets.” That being said, it is important to wear life-vests when traveling in any type of boat on open water, no matter your age or skill level in the water.

Remember To Breathe

breathingHyperventilating or holding your breath for too long can cause children or adults to suffer from “shallow water blackouts.” According to an organization called Shallow Water Blackout Prevention, a shallow water blackout is when “A swimmer faints caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain, triggered by holding your breath repeatedly, too long. Without immediate rescue, the swimmer quickly drowns.” This is a serious and sometimes fatal occurrence. In order to help prevent this from happening, swimmers should never participate in breath-holding contests before swimming in water.

Avoid Alcohol

alcoholThe CDC and American Red Cross together caution swimmers and those supervising swimmers to avoid alcohol use. The American Red Cross states, “Alcohol impairs judgment, balance, and coordination, affects swimming and diving skills, and reduces the body’s ability to stay warm.” For these reasons, it is recommended that alcohol is not consumed in or around water.

Protect Your Skin

sunThe reflection of the sun against the water can cause serious burns on your skin’s surface, depending on your skin type. These burns can potentially lead to skin cancers down the road, so it is important to take good care of your skin when out in the sun or near water. Some tips to avoid sunburn are:


  • Always wear sunscreen and apply again every few hours
  • Wear a hat to protect your scalp
  • Wear quality sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays.

According to the National Eye Institute, the sun’s effects on the eyes include:

  • “Cataracts, a clouding of the eye’s lens that can blur vision. An estimated 20% of cases are caused by extended UV exposure.”
  • “Macular degeneration, resulting from damage to the retina that destroys central vision. Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in the United States.”
  • “Pterygium, a tissue growth over the white part of the surface of the eye that can alter the curve of the eyeball, causing astigmatism.”

So this summer, whether you’re swimming in the pool, going for boat ride on the lake, or taking a trip to the beach, keep water safety at the top of mind. It is important to be well-versed in safety around water. Though water safety tips can be helpful, make sure you are actively seeking water safety training from certified professionals to help keep yourself and others safe this year and in the future.

According to the CDC, “Drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury death in the United States.” This means, “[e]very day, about ten people die from unintentional drowning.” In order to save your own life or the life of another, it is vital that you understand and practice water safety each and every time you are in or around water.

Water-related accidents could happen to anyone; be the hero when it does. Whether you’re prepared to perform CPR for someone who is drowning or you’re vigilant of your children playing in the swimming pool, you are in a position to save someone’s life.

For more information about swim lessons, water-safety courses, and other aquatics programs, visit the YMCA website, HERE

Emily Sanville, Digital Communications Coordinator

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