The weather is getting warmer and sunnier, and thousands of pools across the Orlando area will be opening for the season, including nearly a dozen outdoor public pools. Activities such as pool parties, beach outings, and boating not only provide a convenient way to escape the blistering summer heat, but can help to bring friends and family together and create life-long memories for you and your loved ones.
While these aquatic activities can be a lot of fun, and are often the highlight of one’s summer, it is easy to overlook crucial safety precautions that can help prevent injuries while in or around the water. The statistics of water-related injuries and deaths in Florida serve as a sobering reminder of what can happen if these precautions are neglected, especially among young children.
According to Florida Department of Health statistics from 2012, 68% of drownings occur in the warmer months of April through September, when children are on summer break from school. Florida also leads the nation in drowning rates for children under five years old. As a result, drowning has become the leading cause of death in Florida within this age group. Whether you are swimming at a pool party or at the beach, here are five important tips that will keep you and your children safe this summer:
- Keep Pool Area Supervised – there should be somebody outside of the water watching and monitoring those who are in the pool at all times, regardless of age. Even adults and strong swimmers can suffer from accidents, such as seizures, while in the water. Having someone supervising the pool area can help to prevent or minimize the risks from such incidents.
- Keep Pool Area Safe – ensure that your pool is fenced on all sides and equipped with self-latching gates, so that it prevents easy accessibility by children. List and impose a set of rules for swimmers to follow. Explain to swimmers that dangerous activities such as running and shallow diving can often lead to slips and injuries, sometimes resulting in paralysis and death. Also make sure you have a First Aid Kit handy in the event of minor injuries.
- Personal Flotation Devices (PFD) – ensure that all children and weaker swimmers wear a flotation device, such as a lifejacket and water swimming-pool-safety wings, at all times while in the water. These are proven and effective methods of minimizing the risk of drowning. Pay particular attention to any weight and size limits that might be associated with the PFD.
- Apply Sunscreen and Stay Hydrated – if you are spending a lot of time outside in the sun, drink plenty of water throughout the day in order to minimize heat exhaustion. Use waterproof sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15, and ensure to apply regularly throughout the day. Do not consume alcohol if you are swimming or driving any vehicle.
- Inclement Weather – avoiding swimming during inclement weather and during the night can minimize the risks of lightning strikes, as well as drowning. This is especially so if you are in open water, or at the beach.