With Spring Break upon us (and the Summer season following not far behind), pools, beaches and (hopefully for my East Coast friends) sunny days are in our near future. Because it is my goal to help everyone live safe, healthy and happy lives, I thought I would start on that quest by highlighting some of the most useful summer-saftey tips and websites I have come across in my research. (You know I love to research things to death). And for my fellow smartphone-obsessed parents, there are also links to some great first aid and swim apps, for safety on-the-go. Enjoy, and stay safe!
Helpful Water Safety Tips
Via the American Red Cross website:
- Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets in and the around water. No one should use any other type of floatation device unless they are able to swim.
- Be aware of the danger of rip currents. If caught in one, swim parallel to the shore until out of the current. When free, turn and swim toward shore. If unable to swim to the shore, call out for help, float or tread water until free of the rip current and then head toward shore
- What Drowning actually looks like: Instinctive Drowning Response (from the Journal of the US Coast Guard Search and Rescue, Fall 2006):
- “Except in rare circumstances, drowning people are physiologically unable to call out for help. The respiratory system was designed for breathing. Speech is the secondary or overlaid function. Breathing must be fulfilled before speech occurs.
- Drowning people’s mouths alternately sink below and reappear above the surface of the water. The mouths of drowning people are not above the surface of the water long enough for them to exhale, inhale, and call out for help. When the drowning people’s mouths are above the surface, they exhale and inhale quickly as their mouths start to sink below the surface of the water.
- Drowning people cannot wave for help. Nature instinctively forces them to extend their arms laterally and press down on the water’s surface. Pressing down on the surface of the water permits drowning people to leverage their bodies so they can lift their mouths out of the water to breathe.
- Throughout the Instinctive Drowning Response, drowning people cannot voluntarily control their arm movements. Physiologically, drowning people who are struggling on the surface of the water cannot stop drowning and perform voluntary movements such as waving for help, moving toward a rescuer, or reaching out for a piece of rescue equipment.
- From beginning to end of the Instinctive Drowning Response people’s bodies remain upright in the water, with no evidence of a supporting kick. Unless rescued by a trained lifeguard, these drowning people can only struggle on the surface of the water from 20 to 60 seconds before submersion occurs.”
- The Red Cross also recommends “reach out or throw, don’t go” when it comes to someone who is drowning. Basically this translates to reaching out or throwing something for a drowning victim to grab onto, rather than jumping in yourself. Now, of course, I would say use your best judgement: if it’s your 2-year-old toddler who can be easily scooped out of the water, go ahead and jump in.
A couple other things to be aware of:
- “Secondary Drowning” or “Dry Drowning” can occur when “a swimmer inhales water, either due to a near-drowning incident or sudden rush of water.” (“You can drown After You Leave the Pool” from CNN.com). The water can either get in the lungs and cause problems later, or cause a child’s vocal chords to close up. Symptoms include:
- Chest pain
- Trouble breathing
- Feeling extremely tired
Now, this is extremely rare. But I feel like it is something of which to be aware, particularly if your child is complaining of being exhausted soon after swimming. For more information, you can also check out WebMD‘s page on the condition.
- Sand collapse – did you know that sometimes (well, very rarely) when digging big holes in the sand, the hole will collapse around you and you can become buried in sand? Okay, okay, I know. The whole death by dry drowning or pit of sand seem pretty far-fetched (they are), and make me seem like a worry-wort mama (which I can be!). But, again, while I’m not trying to instill unneccessary fear in you, I do want to make you aware of some lesser-known summer risks. For more info about this type of beach sand danger, check out this article from ABCNews and this one from USAToday.
- KidsHealth.org (from the Nemours Foundation, a pediatrician-led center) – I love this website for parents, but even more I think it’s a great resource for kids and teens to look up information about health and wellness on their own. Easy to navigate and free of “doctor speak,” their “summer safety” section includes water, sun, poison ivy, tick and travel safety tips: Summer Safety
Water Safety Tips:
- The American Red Cross:
- Water Safety
- Beach Safety (including information on what to do if you get caught in a rip current):
- You can also look up swimming and water safety courses offered through the Red Cross here
- http://www.watersafekids.com – Classes that teach infants and young toddlers to survive if they fall in a pool (IRS “Self-Rescue program”)
Sun Safety Tips:
- From the American Cancer Society (includes sunscreen guidelines): How Do I Protect Myself from UV Rays?
- From HealthyChildren.org (another one of my fave websites for all sorts of family safety information): Sun Safety
- And if you are looking to find a good, healthy sunscreen to use on your kiddos, the Enviromental Working Group (EWG) has a great guide for specific sunscreens that meet their criteria: EWG’s Sunscreen Guide
- Red Cross First Aid App
- Red Cross Swim App
- Pocket First Aid and CPR App (from Jive and the American Heart Association)
- iSwimBand – This is both a gadget that your child wears while in the water ($80), and an app (which alerts your phone if your child remains submerged in the water for too long). Read Cool Mom Tech’s review of it here.
Have a fun and safe summer!!