As Memorial Day weekend draws near, people are dragging out their grills and lawn furniture, dusting off that croquet set, and opening up their pools after a long winter. The American Red Cross of Greater Grand Rapids wants to help make your weekend festivities as fun as they can be by supplying you with water safety tips! This weekend marks the unofficial start of pool and beach season here in West Michigan, and these tips can start you off with a bang!
Children under age 5 and young adults from 15 to 24 have the highest rates of drowning. Most young children who drown do so in home pools, but there are many other kinds of water environments. These tips focus on three areas: general water safety, supervising children near the water, and safeguarding home swimming pools.
General Water Safety:
- Always swim with a buddy and never alone.
- Read and obey all rules and posted signs.
- Swim in areas that are supervised by a lifeguard.
- Children or inexperienced swimmers should take extra precautions and wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket.
- Set water safety rules for your family based on swimming abilities.
- Be knowledgeable of your water environment and its potential hazards.
- Know how to prevent, recognize and respond to emergencies by seeking proper training.
- Use a feet-first entry when entering the water.
- Do not mix alcohol with swimming, diving or boating.
When Supervising Children:
- Maintain constant supervision.
- Stay within arm’s reach of an inexperienced swimmer and remain watchful.
- Do not rely on substitutes such as flotation devices and inflatable toys; they cannot replace supervision.
- Prevent access to certain water features such as small ponds and waterfalls.
- Empty kiddie pools immediately after use.
- Enroll a child in a Red Cross learn-to-swim course.
Safeguard Home Swimming Pools:
- Construct a fence that includes a self-closing, self-latching gate and completely encloses the area with vertical bars.
- Post the rules for your pool and enforce them without exception.
- Post depth markers and “No Diving” signs as appropriate.
- Keep toys away from the pool and out of sight when the pool is not in use.
- Pool covers should be completely removed prior to use and completely secured when in place.
- Post emergency numbers and have a cell phone readily available when poolside.
- Ensure basic lifesaving devices such as a reaching pole, rope and flotation devices are easily accessible.
- Learn Red Cross CPR and First Aid and post CPR and first aid instructions.
- Maintain clean and clear pool water.
- Store pool chemicals in childproof containers and out of the reach of children.
Education through training is essential to preparedness. Last year, as part of the Red Cross mission to prevent, prepare for and respond to disasters and emergencies, the Greater Grand Rapids Chapter trained more than 4500 individuals in learn-to-swim, lifeguard certification curriculum and other water safety programs.
For more information about water safety or aquatics training provided by the American Red Cross, please call the Greater Grand Rapids Chapter at (616) 456-8661 or go to the Chapter’s website at www.greatergrandrapids.redcross.org.