Summer is here. Let’s go swimming!

Dina Burstein, MD, MPH, CPSTI, FAAP

Summer is finally here. As the weather warms, many of us head to pools, beaches or boats to cool off. It’s a great way to spend a hot summer day, but each presents some dangers. Following safety recommendations is critical for a day around the water.

Keeping kids safe around the water

Drowning is a leading cause of death for kids, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The American Academy of Pediatrics reports about 1,000 deaths per year, with toddlers ages one to four at highest risk.
A report recently released by the Consumer Product Safety Commission states that fatal child drownings are on the rise. Remember:

  • Supervision is the key to protecting our young kids.
  • Children should be within arm’s length of an adult at all times when at the pool or beach.
  • Adults need to avoid distractions and refrain from drinking alcohol when supervising a young child around water.

Water safety is for adults too!

Drowning is not just a problem for children. The CDC reports that in 2017, close to 2,000 individuals age 15 and older died as a result of drowning. Adults need to be careful not to overestimate their swimming abilities, and remember, it is never too late to take swimming lessons. Adults must also obey rules and warning signs at pools and beaches, and drinking alcohol and swimming is not a wise combination.  

By the pool

Follow these important safety tips to make sure everyone is safe around the pool this summer.

  • Make sure your pool is surrounded by a fence on all four sides. In Rhode Island the fence needs to be a minimum of 4 feet in height.
  • Consider installing a pool alarm.
  • Always know who is in charge of watching children while at the pool. That person should not be distracted in any way including reading, texting, using their phone or consuming alcohol.
  • Learn how to swim and teach children how to swim.
  • Learn how to perform CPR on children and adults.
  • Keep children away from pool drains and other openings to avoid entrapments. Also, make sure the pool drain cover meets federal safety standards.

At the beach

Rhode Island is the Ocean State and we have many beautiful beaches. While a trip to the beach is a summer tradition, the ocean can be dangerous. Follow these safety tips so your beach outings are safe.

  • Always swim in designated areas near where a lifeguard is stationed.
  • Swim with a buddy, never alone.
  • Check in with the lifeguards to make sure it is safe to swim.
  • Obey all posted signs and flags.
  • Be aware of rip currents and learn about rip current safety.

On the boat

Did you know that close to 700 people died in recreational boating accidents in the United States in 2017, according to the U.S. Coast Guard? Boats are fun, but it is important to follow some important boating safety tips to make sure your day out on the water is a safe one for everyone.

  • Everyone should wear an appropriately fitted Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
  • Make a float plan and leave it with the local marina or yacht club. A float plan describes your boat, who is on board, the safety equipment you have available as well as where you will be going and when you plan to return. This information will enable the Coast Guard to help you in case of an emergency.
  • Take a boating safety course and be sure you know the ‘rules of the road’ in waterways.
  • Be prepared with all the proper equipment including a tool kit and first aid kit, and a radio.
  • Always check the weather report. Weather can change quickly.
  • Never operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol.

Summer weather offers the opportunity for many outdoor activities. Make sure all your water outings are both fun and safe by following these safety recommendations.

For more safety tips, visit our 4-Safety program website.

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