According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 3,500 Americans died from drowning each year between 2005 and 2014. Thousands more are injured, in pools and spas, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Of those who are treated for drowning in emergency rooms and survive, more than 50 percent require hospitalization or ongoing care, which can be expensive. Many suffer from lifelong afflictions including brain damage, memory issues, learning disabilities or the loss of basic brain function.
And it’s not always their fault. Sometimes negligent pool and spa owners put swimmers at risk by not properly caring for their equipment or providing a safe, secure place to play in the water.
Here are seven ways to protect yourself from swimming accidents:
1) Watch your children closely.
Roughly one in five people who drown are age 14 or younger. If you are in a pool, lake or spa with children, make sure there is an adult specifically designated to watch the youngsters.
2) Learn CPR.
CPR has been proven to save lives and improve outcomes for drowning victims. Doing CPR while waiting for medics can save lives.
3) Wear a life jacket.
It is estimated that half of all boating deaths could be prevented if the victims had been wearing life jackets. Wearing a life jacket–whether at the beach or in the pool–can help keep you safe.
4) Don’t rely on air-filled or foam toys.
Water wings, noodles and inner-tubes might be fun to play with, but they should not be counted on to keep you or your kids safe in the water.
5) Make sure pool decks are clean and clear.
Toys and slippery spots left around pool decks are tripping hazards. The toys can also be alluring to young children, attracting them to the pool without supervision.
6) Look for rescue devices.
When someone goes under water, it’s important to have a pole or rescue device nearby to throw to the person in trouble. Before you jump into a pool, make sure you know where the rescue devices are located.
7) Don’t drink too much alcohol.
Whether you are at the beach or on a pool deck, it’s important not to consume too much alcohol. Drinking too much can limit your ability to keep track of your kids and make responsible decisions.