May is National Water Safety Month: Are You Practicing Swim Safety?

May is National Water Safety Month, a crucial topic for individuals and businesses with bodies of water such as a lake, pond, river, and pool. Drowning is a leading cause of death for children, but it is preventable. With proper water safety skills and knowledge, water activities can be fun and safe.

Water Competency

Make sure all staff and swimmers understand and have water competency. According to the American Red Cross, water competency has three main components:

  1. Water Smarts
  2. Swimming Skills
  3. Helping Others

Water Smarts

Planning to dip your toes or not, always take precautions around water, especially with children and weak swimmers.

  • Always be aware of limitations that include physical fitness levels and medical conditions.
  • Never allow someone to swim alone, even if they are a satisfactory swimmer. Make sure there is a “water watcher” such as a staff member, parent, etc., or a trained lifeguard present, if able.
  • Use U.S. Coast Guard-approved life vests appropriate for weight and size.
  • Understand the dangers of hyperventilation and hypoxic blackout – also known as shallow water blackout – that can occur. Visit Shallow Water Blackout Prevention to learn more.
  • Understand the body of water and its unique risks such as river currents, rip currents, dangerous water temperatures, water depth, and water hazards such as marine life and present bacteria or vegetation.
  • Know when to call for help – don’t wait.

Swimming Skills

Do your swimmers have the ability to perform basic swim skills in different bodies of water? Have they successfully completed swimming lessons or courses? Understanding swimmer skill levels, whether its children at a summer camp, or the families on your beach, is key to swim safety.

Basic test examples include:

  • Entering water over your head then returning to the surface.
  • Floating or treading water for at least 1 minute.
  • Turning over and around in the water.
  • Swimming at least 25 yards.
  • Exiting water.

When and How to Help

Emergencies and accidents cannot always be avoided. Be sure you, your staff, and your patrons know or have the ability to respond to an emergency if it occurs.

  • Pay close attention to swimmers in and around the water, especially children.
  • Know the signs of someone struggling or drowning.
  • Know how to safely assist a drowning person – “reach or throw, don’t go”.
  • Know CPR and first aid.
  • Have a plan and the ability to call for emergency help.

Layers of Protection

Make safety a priority by providing “levels” of protection in and around bodies of water. The more levels of protection, the safer the environment can be.

  • Even with lifeguards present, parents or guardians should always be aware of and stay with their children. Check out lifeguard equipment at CRS!
  • Designate a “water watcher” to provide close supervision of and proximity to swimmers, avoiding distractions like cell phones, reading a book, or napping.
  • Teach children to always ask an adult’s permission before going near a body of water, even shallow water.
  • All children, inexperienced swimmers, and boaters should wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life vest.
  • Understand the individual body of water and its unique safety issues.
  • Provide adequate barriers or “swimming” areas using safety buoys. CRS carries swim buoys and anchoring to make your waterfront a safer destination.
  • If you are a business able to do so, consider providing or requiring swimming lessons and swim classes. If you are a parent, make sure the entire family learns how to properly and safely swim.

Ask one of our Recreation Specialists about how we can help make your waterfront safer.
Call 877-896-8442 today!

Water Emergencies

Know what to do in an emergency situation.

  • If someone is missing, check the water first. Seconds matter in preventing injury or death!
  • Alert the lifeguard, if one is present.
  • Know the signs of trouble – don’t wait.
  • Rescue and remove the person from the water without putting yourself in danger.
  • Ask someone to call for emergency medical services.
    • If you are alone, render aid for 2 minutes, then call EMS.
  • Begin CPR and/or first aid.
  • Use an AED, if available.

For more information and resources for you, your family, staff members, and patrons on water safety, visit the American Red Cross.

Let Commercial Recreation Specialists help you make a safe summer a great summer!