To help families safely enjoy their time around water, ACEP offers the following tips:
- Teach your children to swim.
- Never swim alone.
- Only swim in places that are supervised. Never allow children to swim without adult supervision.
- Never dive into unfamiliar water.
- If swimming outdoors in summer, wear sunscreen, with at least a level 15 sun protection factor, to protect against burns.
- Check with lifeguards about surf and beach conditions before going in the water. Obey warning signs in dangerous areas.
- Don’t overestimate your swimming ability. Never depend on flotation devices for your safety.
- Swimming can be a rigorous activity. Maintain hydration, just as you would for land-based exercise.
- Never swim after drinking alcohol, eating heavily or while taking drugs or medications.
- Don’t swim while overheated, tired or chilled.
- Never swim during inclement weather.
- Always swim or surf in designated areas.
- Walk on swimming pool decks. Their watery surfaces are slippery, making it easy to fall and injure yourself.
- Stay away from cliff edges; stay behind fences and obey warning signs.
- Never run and dive into the water. Even if you have checked before, conditions can change.
- Swim parallel to the shore if you want to swim long distances.
- Wear sandals or shoes on the beach to avoid broken glass and other sharp objects.
- If lightning and thunder occur, get out of the water immediately. Seek shelter in a building or automobile. If no shelter is available, find the lowest spot possible and avoid open spaces. Don’t sit under an umbrella and stay away from metal objects such as aluminum chairs.
- If having trouble swimming in the water, don’t panic. Raise and wave one arm for help while floating and waiting for assistance.
- Learn rescue breathing and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
Diving and bodysurfing accidents can result in serious neck and spinal injuries, including paralysis. Before diving, check for depth and obstructions, then go in feet first the first time. When body surfing always extend a hand ahead of you to protect your face from striking the bottom of the ocean.
Rip tides are the cause of many drownings and beach rescues each year. Rip tides are dangerous because they can carry a swimmer out into deep water. If you are caught in a rip tide:
- Don’t panic.
- Don’t fight the rip. Swim parallel to the shore until you are free of the out-rushing water. Then swim back to shore or signal for help.
- Remember to stay calm and conserve your energy. If you become weak or tired, float with the rip current instead of fighting it, and signal for help.