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#YouAsked: “Can you share some safety tips to help me and my family stay safe this summer while in the water?”

Swimming is a great recreational sport that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. But it’s important to know how to be safe while you’re in the water. The following are just a few important safety tips you should be aware of before you, or your family, head out to the pool or beach:

  • Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
    • Read the signs posted in a swimming area and follow the safety information.
    • Shallow water, underwater logs or big rocks are all dangerous when diving into lakes or swimming holes and can cause serious injury. When at a pool or other swimming area, only dive into areas where it is safe to dive. Look for no diving signs.
    • When you go in the water, swim only where you feel comfortable. Do not go farther or deeper than you can handle. At beaches, swim parallel to the shore, and stay inside marked areas. Be aware that cold water or rough conditions can impact your swimming abilities.
    • Never run on the pool deck.  This area can be very slippery, especially when there is water on the deck.
  • Always swim with a “buddy” and do not allow anyone to swim alone.  Even when a lifeguard is around, it is best to have a “buddy”.
    • Wrestling and tumbling in any water body can be very dangerous. You could hit your head against pool walls, floors or rocks and become unconscious. If this happens and you do not get help quickly, you could drown.
  • Children should be closely monitored while they are swimming or playing in or near water, even when they use swimming aids such as armbands, floating seats or water wings and neck rings. These devices are not intended to save lives. Swimming aids can give a false sense of security, which could result in a lack of proper supervision.
    • Never leave a young child unattended near water and do not trust a child’s life to another child.
    • Maintain constant supervision and avoid distractions when supervising children around water.
    • Teach children to always ask permission to go near water.
    • Infants and toddlers (0-5 years old) must always be within arm’s reach of a responsible adult when they are in or near water.  A small child can drown in as little as one inch of water in just a few seconds, even in the bath.
    • Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear an approved life jacket or or personal flotation devices (PFD) around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone.   Life jackets/PFDs are never a replacement for adult supervision. Check the label to make sure that your life jacket/PFD is Transport Canada approved, and that it is the right size for your weight.
    • Children under the age of five should never use a hot tub- not even with an adult. Hot tubs are too hot for young children, may have high bacteria, and the drain in the hot tub can trap children.
    • If a child is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.
  • If you have a pool, secure it with appropriate barriers. Many children who drown in home pools were out of sight for less than five minutes and in the care of one or both parents at the time.
    • Keep toys, garden furniture and tools away from the pool fence. Children can climb up on these items to get over the fence and into the pool.
    • Put toys away after pool time. Leaving toys in or around the pool can tempt children to go get them and put themselves in danger.
  • Drink plenty of water regularly, even if you’re not thirsty.
    • Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine in them.  Injuries involving alcohol are a common problem around water, including private pools, hot tubs, beaches and swimming holes. Alcohol can make accidents worse because it slows down your reaction time. Alcohol can also put you to sleep. This is especially dangerous in a hot tub. If you are in or around any water body, do not drink alcohol.
  • Have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first-aid kit close to the pool.
  • Know what to do in an emergency, including CPR, as well as how and when to call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
  • Make sure everyone in your family learns to swim well.   Enroll in age-appropriate learn-to-swim courses, home pool safety, water safety, as well as a first-aid and CPR courses to learn how to prevent and respond to emergencies.  For more information, visit St. John Ambulance.

Additional Resources on Swimming Safely: