It’s a summertime classic.

It’s one of the best ways to spend a hot afternoon in the sunshine.

It’s refreshing and fun and great exercise. It’s swimming, and pools across the nation, at private homes and in neighborhoods and community centers, are opening up for business.

But swimming pools, lakes, and other bodies of water hold unforgiving dangers. It’s a sobering statistic. The Centers for Disease Control reports that the leading cause of death for children ages 0-14 is drowning. And drowning is a leading cause of death and injury at any age.

Staying safe this summer while also enjoying the water should be top of mind for any of us heading to the beach or a long day at the lake.

  1. Take a lifesaving class. Basic CPR and water rescue skills should be an essential tool in  your water activities kit. Check in with the Red Cross or for other programs in your community who can get you up-to-speed.
  2. Require life jackets. Life jackets should be a must for all children, on any natural body of water. 
  3. Designate an adult as the guard. While at the pool or shore, have one adult responsible for watching young swimmers at all times. That person can be the designated guard for 15 minutes and then can switch off with the next adult in your group. That means no looking at phones, no reading, no conversations that take their eyes off the swimmers. When adults share turns as the guard, everyone gets a chance to relax and play without assuming people are keeping a close watch.
  4. Keep fences around home pools. If you have young children living in your home or kids who are often at your house (grandkids or friends’ kids), make a fence a top priority.
  5. Acquaint yourself with the signs of drowning. There are subtle signs to look for. Not everyone who is in trouble in the water looks like they’re in trouble.
  6. Water safety isn’t just about the pool or the lake. Bathtubs are also a place in the home to maintain vigilance, along with water features in yards, plastic containers that might be holding water, and other water containment systems.
  7. Familiarize yourself with the signs and symptoms of ‘dry drowning.’ A child can play all afternoon in the pool and seem perfectly safe. But hours later, they can begin to show signs of dry drowning or secondary drowning. This is when water is ingested that causes the airway to close up, or in the case of secondary drowning, a small amount of water is inhaled into the lungs. There are warning signs for you to be aware of, including vomiting, sleepiness, coughing, and struggling to breathe.

Stay safe at the pool this summer by keeping safety as the top priority and your attention on swimmers of all ages.