Tips for swimming safely in Massachusetts pools, lakes and ponds and ocean beaches.
We wish our friends, families and colleagues a wonderful Fourth of July holiday week. Whether you enjoy the fireworks in Boston or travel to Cape Cod, we hope you enjoy a more leisurely pace, some good BBQ and a little time in the water. But before you swim, we urge you to remember the rules of water safety at all times.
Ten people die in unintentional drownings each day in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While young children suffer a high number of drowning deaths, swimmers of all ages are at risk during the holiday week and summer months, when we spend more time near the water. This is partly because of our water skills – many of us can’t swim or we overestimate our abilities. According to the American Red Cross, 80 percent of Americans claim they can swim, but just 56 percent can actually perform the five basic water competency skills.
Alcohol consumption also tends to rise during celebrations and gatherings. Alcohol consumption can interfere with one’s ability to interpret their surroundings and respond in any setting, but especially in extreme heat. Near the water, alcohol is particularly potent, factoring into up to 70 percent of deaths associated with water recreation, according to the CDC.
Swimming Pool Safety
Pools should be protected by four-sided fencing which stands at least four feet tall. Doors should be self-closing and self-latching. If you are a parent, avoid visiting homes with inadequate fencing because this is the first and most important line of defense in protecting your child against drowning.
Pools should also have anti-entrapment drain covers and safety release systems to protect children from drain entrapment. Ask pool owners where the drains are before you swim.
Watch children closely. Commit to avoiding distractions such as cell phones, conversation or grilling.
In general, beware of any activity which encourages you to move your gaze up, down or away from the pool. If a child is struggling in the water, they need an immediate response and they cannot call out to you if they are starting to drown.
Never consume alcohol at the pool.
Swim with young children and keep them within arm’s reach.
When using an unfamiliar pool, take a test swim on your own without your child.
Walk into a pool using steps or a ladder, rather than diving.
When you are done swimming, if you have young children, leave the pool area and make sure it’s properly secured.
Water Safety in Lakes and Ponds
If you are swimming, look for a public or private beach staffed by lifeguards.
Adults and children should wear life jackets when in lakes and ponds, on a boat or a dock.
Do not consume alcohol at the lake or pond.
Always swim with a friend or family member.
Closely supervise young children to prevent drownings. At lakes and ponds, there are more elements to consider, including shifting sand and dark water.
Enter the water feet first from a beach or other areas marked as safe entrances.
Only dive in areas which are clearly marked as safe for diving. Jumping in feet first is safer.
Never dive from bridges or boats.
Be responsive to water and weather conditions. Leave the water immediately when there is thunder and lightning.
Pay attention to boats, personal watercraft and other swimmers on the pond which could interfere with your ability to swim safely.
Water Safety at the Ocean
Do not expect your family to be ready for the beach just because they have experience in a swimming pool or even a lake or pond. The ocean is much more challenging and unpredictable.
Choose beaches staffed by lifeguards. In addition to responding to emergencies, lifeguards can share information about water conditions, such as the tide schedule, vegetation, marine animals and fish.
Just like every lake and pond, remember every beach has different conditions.
Swim with young children.
Never swim alone; swim with a buddy.
Learn how to identify a rip tide and how to respond. According to the American Red Cross, swimmers are advised to swim parallel to the shore line until they are free from the rip tide. When swimmers can’t do this, they can attempt to just float and tread water until they have moved out of the rip tide.
Leave the water immediately if you hear thunder or see lighting. You should also head back to shore if you are traveling in a boat. If you can’t return to shore, lie in the bottom of the boat or shelter in the cabin if you can.
About Breakstone, White & Gluck
The Boston personal injury lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck are committed to providing clients with aggressive and thorough representation. We represent clients in all types of personal injury cases, including car accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, dog bites, swimming pool injuries and premises liability cases. For a free legal consultation, contact us today at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.