28. Never Leave an Infant or Toddler Unattended in the Bathtub
Most infants and toddlers who drown do so in the bathtub. Parents who are bathing young children may become distracted by a phone call. They may also assume that if the child is contentedly playing with bath toys, that he or she is okay.
Never, ever leave a child unattended in the bathtub, even for a minute. Remain constantly vigilant while bathing an infant or toddler, even if the child is secured in a bath seat. Bath seats and other devices can lull parents into a false sense of security so that they are not as aware as they should be.
Buddy systems are the safest way to engage in recreational activities, especially on the water. They provide accountability so that if one person is in distress, the other person can immediately call for help before pain turns into a life-threatening emergency.
Swimming with a buddy also means that the person you are swimming with may recognize when you are becoming too tired. You may insist that you are able to continue swimming without a problem, but when your partner realizes that there is a problem, he or she may force you to take a break.
Children, in particular, especially those who are able to swim, may decide that they are better at swimming than they actually are. They may choose to dive into the deep end of the pool when they are not able to.
Swimming past your abilities, trying to do things in the water that you actually do not have the skills to do, is one cause of drowning. If you want to gain better abilities for swimming, the best thing to do is take swim lessons, not push your own limits.
31. Make Sure Children Wear Proper Flotation Devices
Many children who drown do so while wearing swim floaties on their arms. These devices are actually dangerous for two primary reasons. One is that they lull parents into a false sense of security and make them feel that they do not need to be constantly vigilant of their children in the water.
Another reason is those swim floaties that are worn on the arms only keep the arms above water. But children don’t drown because water enters their arms. They drown because water enters their lungs.
Children need to wear proper flotation devices that keep their heads above water. For young children, this may mean a swimsuit that includes a flotation device for the torso.
Some people drown because they experienced an injury while in the water. The easiest way to experience an injury in the water is to dive into the shallow end of a pool. Doing so can easily cause a spinal cord injury, which can be life-limiting even if you do not drown.
If a friend is trying to dare you to dive into the shallow end, don’t take the bait. Don’t ever dive into water that is not at least eight feet deep. Otherwise, you run a very high risk of injuring yourself and drowning before anyone is able to get help.
If you are not feeling well, the best thing to do is not get into the water. First off, nobody wants to swim in the water after someone has vomited in it. But on a more critical note, if you are feeling ill, you are at a much higher risk of drowning.
Only swim when you are feeling well and alert enough to be aware of your surroundings at all times. Remember that if you begin to feel sick while you are in the water, you may drown before you are able to get help.
34. Check the Depth of the Water Before Getting In
You may assume that the water is eight feet deep when it is actually three feet, so decide what you will dive in — bad idea. Or you may think that the water is shallow when it is actually quite deep, so don’t hold your breath and prepare for a trip down.
Before getting into the water, always check to make sure how deep it is. If you are in a natural source of water, like a lake or the ocean, you may not always be aware of how deep it is. In these cases, the best option is to remain around other people and don’t go out further than where others have gone.
If you are out at the beach, there are few things more fun than playing in the waves as the tide comes in. However, if the water becomes rough – especially if the beach flags are orange or above – do not try to swim in the water.
If you were planning for a beautiful beach day, but the water is too rough, make a trip to a swimming pool instead. It may not be what you had hoped for, but swimming in the ocean when the water is rough puts you and those with you at a heightened risk of drowning.
Riptides are the underwater currents that happen when the tide pulls back from the shore. Many people who drown while swimming in the ocean are carried far from shore by rip tides and are unable to get to safety.
If there are strong rip tides, then you probably want to avoid swimming in the ocean altogether that day. If you ever do get caught in a riptide, do not resist it. Fighting the riptide will wear you out so that you will not be able to swim to safety. Let the riptide carry you out, and then swim back to the shore after it has loosened its grip on you.
Chicken fights – when two people wrestle while on other people’s shoulders – may be a lot of fun. They are also easy ways to drown. Most lifeguards nowadays will not permit chicken fights in the water, and for good reason.
Never run around a pool, and never allow children to do so. The slippery ground around a pool can cause you to slip and fall into the water unprepared. If the water is shallow, you can hit your head. If the water is deep, you may go under and not be able to get up. Either way, you are at a heightened risk of drowning.
Remember that not all drowning episodes result in death. If someone had to be rescued from the water, he or she might have water in the lungs, which can cause life-threatening damage, even after the rescue.
Make sure that you call for help or take the drowning victim immediately to the hospital to be examined. This is especially important if the victim was a child, as the child can experience secondary drowning and die unexpectedly days later.
39. Make Sure That Filters and Other Suction Devices Are in Safe Places
Many children have drowned because a foot or other part of their bodies became trapped in the pool filter. Even when the lifeguard tried to help them, they were submerged so far underwater and trapped in a suctioning device, so they were unable to be rescued.
To prevent this situation, make sure that filters and other suction devices are installed correctly in a location that will not pose a threat. Even if hair gets caught in one of these devices, the person’s head can become submerged and cause drowning. When in doubt, have an expert come in and look at your pool devices.
Swimming safely means being aware of your abilities and the abilities of the other people that you are with. Make sure that the pool you are in is not overcrowded, as the lifeguard may not be able to see you if you go into distress.
Make sure that you and the people you are with follow the lifeguard’s instructions. Whenever possible, swim in clear water, as the lifeguard or other people in your group will be able to see more clearly if you or someone else is in distress. Make sure that you enjoy your time in the water and that it does not end in disaster for anyone.