Let the Fun Begin – With Water Safety!
Now that outdoor restrictions have loosened, and more attractions are opening, it is a good idea to review your personal practices for maintaining water safety, especially when children are involved. Whether you are experiencing a fun-filled day at the beach, pool, or water park, it is important to think about the steps you can take to make sure that you and your family have a safe and enjoyable day.
Why Water Safety is Important
It is reported that there are more than 3,800 deaths due to drowning in the United States every year. Although this is an alarming statistic, there are additional persons involved in drowning incidents that do not die but are seriously injured. They require extensive hospital care, many suffering from brain injuries. This is unfortunate because a lot of these accidents and deaths can be prevented. As adults and caregivers, we have a responsibility to make water safety a priority.
Dangers to Water Safety
Engaging in water activities can and should be a fun experience. Yet, if we do not respect the water and gain an awareness of some of the dangers, we may increase the chances of becoming involved in a water-related accident. There are a number of things that you can do that will make water activities safer. Below are some common hazards:
- Lack of supervision – Children and weak swimmers should always be closely supervised. Also, swimming in areas without lifeguards on duty is putting yourself at risk.
- Engaging in unsafe activities – Participating in horseplay or diving into shallow water can lead to accidents.
- Lack of knowledge regarding natural water – When swimming in lakes, rivers, or at the beach, you need to be aware of the water conditions, including the possibility of rip currents.
Prevention of Water-Related Tragedies
Prevention involves having the knowledge and skill to effectively navigate the water before you get involved in water activities. In addition to taking action to mitigate the hazards mentioned above, you can do your part to prevent water-related tragedies by becoming water competent and understanding related laws.
Developing Water Competence
Becoming water competent involves three key aspects: water smarts, swimming skills, and helping others.
- Water smarts – Water smarts are about understanding your limitations, swimming in safe areas, knowing how to call for help, knowing the water conditions, and wearing appropriate water safety devices, like a lifejacket.
- Swimming skills – Having basic swimming skills means you can successfully perform certain tasks in the water, such as entering water above your head, controlling your breathing while treading or floating, turning over in the water, swimming at least 25 yards, and safely exiting the water.
- Helping others – Being able to help someone else involves providing careful supervision, knowing the signs of drowning, knowing how to rescue someone, and knowing how to perform CPR.
Know the Laws
If you have a pool on your property, you have a responsibility to ensure that you comply with laws related to their construction. In Missouri, there are specific regulations regarding the design of private in-ground swimming pools that address safety features.
- All pools must be surrounded by an enclosure consisting of a fence, wall, or other durable material that is at least four feet high. There can be no gaps in the barrier that allow any spherical object of four inches in diameter to pass through.
- Any gate must have a self-closing and positive-self closing latch mechanism. The latch should be installed as high as possible, but not higher than four feet.
- Any doors leading to an indoor pool must have a self-closing and positive-self closing latch mechanism. The latch should be installed as high as possible, but not higher than four feet.
Other Tips to Increase Water Safety
As all the information above suggests, you can take many proactive steps to increase water safety. Here are some final tips to keep you and your family safe while you are in the water.
- Don’t swim alone
- Don’t use alcohol or drugs before or during swimming
- Ensure everyone knows how to swim
No one anticipates that a tragedy could occur while spending a relaxing day by the pool or at the beach. However, sometimes horrible things happen. In the event that you or one of your family members is injured in an accident that is someone else’s fault, please give St. Louis Injury Attorney John P. Fritz a call. We’d love to help!