Last year, lifeguards dealt with almost 100,000 water-related rescues of swimmers and boats from beaches around the US.
Spending time in and around water can certainly be enjoyable and beneficial to health; however, it can also be extremely hazardous and may lead to infection, serious injury, or even death.
With thoughts turning to plan summer holidays, swimming at the beach, or boating on a lake, it’s important to be aware of the potential dangers in order to avoid accidents and injuries.
Learning basic swimming skills and gaining confidence in the water is vital, as drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death, especially in toddlers.
In addition, simple safety measures, such as always wearing life jackets on boats and installing safety covers on swimming pools, can prevent unnecessary accidents.
By staying alert and following guidelines around open water, everyone can enjoy the benefits of water-based activities without putting themselves in unnecessary danger.
Learning Basic Skills For Safety
Swimming is an important sport, and as well as being enjoyable, brings many health benefits. It is also a valuable life skill, and being able to swim confidently is essential to being safe around water.
In the UK, a third of adults cannot swim, and a survey by the Red Cross found that, although most Americans could swim, less than half of them could perform all of the basic skills necessary to stay safe in the water.
These include jumping into water over your head and returning to the surface to tread water for at least one minute.
By learning how to swim and practicing these survival skills, individuals can substantially reduce their risks around water, and potentially help others in danger.
Reducing The Danger Of Drowning
Being confident in the water is an important life skill, as every year around the world, one in seven injury-related fatalities is caused by drowning.
However, even strong swimmers and experienced sailors can be taken off guard by volatile weather conditions or powerful waves and undercurrents.
Whether they can swim or not, everyone should wear a flotation device on a boat, and before taking to the water, it’s a good idea to check local conditions and follow the advice of lifeguards.
The provision of good supervision can help to avoid accidental drowning. This is particularly important for toddlers, who can quickly get into trouble in just a couple of inches of water.
As well as staying alert, research has shown that half of the drownings in swimming pools could be prevented simply by installing fencing all around the perimeter.
Taking simple precautions like this can ensure that all ages can enjoy playing in and around water safely.
Miminizing Risks To Prevent Injuries
Even when it is not fatal, over 50% of people require hospitalization after a drowning incident.
The injuries sustained from prolonged submersion underwater can be devastating, causing brain damage or long-term disabilities.
Other completely preventable injuries associated with water include damage to the spinal cord from diving into pools.
According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, diving accidents are the fifth leading cause of spinal injury.
For this reason, it is always advisable to enter a pool first to check how deep it is, and never dive into an above-ground pool or from excessive heights, such as from a balcony or clifftop.
Reports have also shown that swimming in open water such as quarries, lakes and reservoirs can be particularly dangerous.
It’s much safer and more relaxing to swim and sail in designated areas where the geographical features are well known and help is readily available if necessary.
Taking Care To Avoid Illness
As well as being a catalyst for causing injury, open water can also harbor harmful bacteria and other pathogens that can be linked to 90 million illnesses in the US every year.
Swimming in lakes and rivers can lead to accidentally ingesting water contaminated with viruses that may cause sickness or bacteria that could result in a skin rash or ear infection.
Children, pregnant women, and anyone with a weakened immune system should take extra care to avoid swimming in warmer, still, water where harmful bacteria thrive.
And anyone swimming in open water that might be infected should keep their head above water and wear nose clips as a precaution against breathing in the water.
Swimming, boating, and other activities on the water are a great way to relax, exercise, and simply have fun. However, water is also potentially extremely dangerous, causing injury, illness, and unnecessary fatalities.
In order to enjoy it safely, it’s essential to be prepared, stay alert, and follow safety guidelines wherever possible.