Water Safety

Water Safety on The Suncoast – Tips to Remember

We here on the Suncoast are fortunate to enjoy the natural wonders of many bodies of water. From the ocean, water parks, and home pools, we are all about the aquatic life keeping us cool, exercised, and entertained during our long summer months. This relationship with the water means that we must all consider water safety in some form or another to ensure that all family and friends have safe days out enjoying these amazing options. So as we launch into summer, we have compiled some simple to remember tips to ensure everyone has a safe summer out in the waters of the Suncoast.

The Top Red Cross Swim Safety Tips

The Red Cross is the recognized leader in first aid and safety. They want to remind everyone that in a single blink of an eye, quicker than you realize, a weak or untrained swimmer can get into a life-threatening situation. Remember:

  • Ensure every member of your family learns to swim, so they at least achieve water competency skills: able to enter the water, get a breath, stay afloat, change position, swim a distance, then get out of the water safely.
  • Employ layers of protection, including barriers to prevent access to water, life jackets, and close supervision of children to prevent drowning.
  • Know what to do in a water emergency – including how to help someone in trouble in the water safely, call for emergency help, and CPR.

Additionally, remember the Red Cross offers many first aid and other life-saving classes offered throughout various locations here in our communities. While many that work with children, the public, or others are required to take these classes, you can voluntarily take anything offered by the Red Cross. If you have a pool, intend to have visitors out to the beach or pool area, or have grandchildren or other untrained swimmers about, consider adding some life-saving tools to your skill box this summer. Check out the Red Cross website for other helpful tips or classes near you.

Learn to Swim

Water Safety - Swimming

As mentioned above, learning to swim is vital to everyone’s safety, young or old. Many will say a child is too young, or maybe you have gotten by all your life, so why learn now. There are classes for individuals of all ages offered as this is critical for EVERYONE no matter age, or even if you swim regularly or once in a while. This life-saving skill is nearly a requirement here on the Suncoast, where we are surrounded by so much water. In Sarasota and Bradenton, here are a few resources to get you started:

What Else Should You Think About

So you have been trained and feel as if you are a great swimmer. Is that it? Are you good to go, and never worry that something will happen you can’t get out of? Absolutely not! As the CDC warns, there are a few other things everyone planning time on the water should remember this summer:

  • Take a friend along. Even though you may be a good swimmer, you never know when you may need help. Having friends around is safer and just more fun!
  • DON’T dive into shallow water. If you don’t know how deep the water is, don’t dive.
  • Know your limits. Watch out for the “too’s” — too tired, too cold, too far from safety, too much sun, too much hard activity.
  • Swim in supervised (watched) areas only, and follow all signs and warnings.
  • DON’T float where you can’t swim. Keep checking to see if the water is too deep or if you are too far away from the shore or the poolside.
  • Wear a life jacket when boating, jet skiing, water skiing, rafting, or fishing.
  • Stay alert to currents. They can change quickly! If you get caught in a strong current, don’t fight it. Instead, swim parallel to the shore until you have passed through it. Near piers, jetties (lines of big rocks), small dams, and docks, the current gets unpredictable and could knock you around. If you find it hard to move around, head to shore. Learn to recognize and watch for dangerous waves and signs of rip currents — water that is a weird color, really choppy, foamy, or filled with pieces of stuff.
  • Keep an eye on the weather. If you spot bad weather (dark clouds, lighting), pack up and take the fun inside.
  • DON’T mess around in the water. Pushing or dunking your friends can get easily out of hand.
Water Safety with Others

Emergencies Happen

Even with classes, training, and the like, emergencies on the water will happen. Now what? Here are a few important things to remember if you find yourself facing a water emergency.

  • If a child is missing, check the water first: seconds count in preventing death or disability!
  • Alert the lifeguard if one is present.
  • Recognize the signs of someone in trouble and shout for help. For example, a swimmer needs immediate help if they:
    • Are not making forward progress in the water.
    • Are vertical in the water but unable to move or tread water.
    • Remain motionless and face down in the water.
  • Rescue and remove the person from the water (without putting yourself in danger).
  • Ask someone to call emergency medical services (EMS). If alone, give 2 minutes of care, then call EMS.
  • Begin rescue breathing and CPR.
  • Use an AED if available and transfer care to advanced life support.

Learn to swim as well as possible, keep an eye on conditions and each other, and never horse around unsafely in the ocean or other water. With a little bit of forethought and arming yourself with some great water safety tips, we can make 2021 an amazing summer as we all get out on the beaches, water parks, and backyard pools. Let’s safely enjoy the beauty of amazing surfs, sunsets, and waters that drew us all to this amazing state to start with and avoid life-threatening tragedies with a little preparation this summer. Have fun out there – happy splashing!

Photos courtesy of Deposit Photos

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