WEST DES MOINES- This 4th of July, pools, lakes and ponds across the country will be full of swimmers looking for some cool relief on a hot summer day. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about 10 people die every day from unintentional drowning. If you're planning to spend time on or in the water this holiday, keep these water safety tips in mind.
Lack of swimming ability is a primary factor leading to drowning, but CDC research shows that participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk, even for children as young as age 1 year old. If you are swimming in a lake where boaters are present, teach children to stay in designated swimming areas as swimmers can be difficult for boaters to see.
Supervise even good swimmers
Drowning is not the waving, splashing, yelling event that is often portrayed on television. Rather, it happens quickly and quietly as a struggling swimmer often cannot make noise. Swimming in areas where lifeguards are present is always a safer option, but lifeguards should not be considered an alternative to supervising members of your party.
Wear a life jacket
Invest in properly fitted, Coast Guard-approved life jackets. This is important regardless of the swimming ability of boaters. The U.S. Coast Guard reports that more than two-thirds of the victims in boating accidents were not wearing life jackets.
Designate a driver: Boating and alcohol don't mix
Never allow a person who has been drinking alcohol to operate a boat. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, alcohol use is involved in up to 70 percent of incidents associated with water recreation. Alcohol impairs coordination and judgment, and its effects are heightened by heat exposure.
Ponds and lakes may hide jagged rocks, cans, broken glass and trash. Wear foot protection such as aqua socks or sandals in the water to prevent injuries from cutting your holiday short.
Don't forget the sunscreen
Never underestimate the power of the sun, especially when it's reflected off water. Use an appropriate SPF sunscreen and reapply more frequently if you or your kids are getting wet. Sunglasses, hats and protective clothing also help provide protection.
Drink plenty of fluids
Even when surrounded by water, it's easy to get dehydrated in the heat. Dizziness, lightheadedness and nausea are all signs of overheating or heat stroke. Drink plenty of water to prevent heat illness.
Share these water safety tips with your family and friends before hitting the beach or heading to the pool. It will keep the focus on fun while ensuring a safe holiday celebration.