5 ON YOUR SIDE: Safe summer swim tips

5 On Your Side: Summer Swim Safety Tips

It happens all too often: Summer fun turns to tragedy around the water. Drownings are increasing, which is why Consumer Reports explains it’s critically important to follow basic safety precautions around pools, lakes, and the ocean.

Drowning is the number-one leading cause of unintentional death for children ages 1 through 4, and the rate of drowning for black children is more than twice as high as for white children. Experts say that teaching children how to swim at an early age is one of the best ways to prevent drowning.

There are many free or reduced-cost swimming classes for kids and online water safety classes for parents and caregivers are available at your local YMCA, Red Cross or Parks and Rec Department. These are life-saving skills.

Try to find a program that teaches “water competency” both with swimming and safety skills.

It’s also important for adults to take water safety lessons, including CPR and basic first aid.

Whether you’re in a pool, at a beach, or a lake, designate a “water watcher” to watch your kids even when there’s a lifeguard present. That should be their only task; they should not be reading, texting, playing games or distracted by anything else.

Remember these rules – an adult should provide touch supervision, meaning they must be within arm’s length of infants, toddlers and children who aren’t confident swimmers. 

Flotation devices are NOT a substitute for active supervision. Kids without strong swimming skills should wear a “U.S. Coast Guard-approved” life jacket.

And because nearly 70% of drownings among young children happen during non-swim times, all pools should have a fence and a gate that locks or latches automatically.

For more fun in the sun, make sure you and your kids wear sunscreen to protect you from skin cancer. Reapply every two hours or after going in the water. Coppertone Water Babies Lotion SPF 50 is CR’s top-rated sunscreen lotion.

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