Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental deaths for children, four out of five of whom are male. Children from low-income families are four times more likely to drown. It happens in as little as 20 seconds, which is less time than a typical TV commercial, and it usually happens without a sound.

Most people do not think about water safety, but they should because water is dangerous!


Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental deaths for children, four out of five of whom are male. Children from low-income families are four times more likely to drown. 


Drowning happens in as little as 20 seconds, which is less time than a typical TV commercial, and it usually happens without a sound.


But most water-related accidents can be avoided just by following a few safety tips:




Never swim alone.When people swim together, they can help each other or get outside help.

Learn simple safety skills.Know basic CPR skills and water rescue techniques, such as reach, throw and go. This could save someone's life.

Know what you can do.If you are a weak swimmer, do not go in water where you cannot touch bottom. Go into water only if it is chest deep.

Know your limits.Do not try to keep up with friends who are better swimmers than you.

Swim only where there are lifeguards present.Lifeguards are skilled in CPR, first aid and water rescues.

Read signs.Pay attention to signs. If there are “no diving” signs, don't do it. Diving in shallow water can result in spinal cord injuries, paralysis or even death. Diving should only be allowed in 9-foot depth or more. Obey rules that are posted in pool areas. Rules are for the safety of the patron.

Be careful in the sun.Sun reflects off water and sand, and it can intensify the burning rays. Apply sunscreen, and do not forget to reapply often.

Get plenty of fluids.The sun can dehydrate you.

Invest in swimming lessons.Swimming should be considered a life skill. It could save a life if someone is in the water and you need to get them to safety. 

Supervision is also key to water safety! Know where your children are at all times. Keep small children no more than an arm’s length away from you. 


No matter what your child's swimming ability is, they need to be supervised by a responsible adult at all times. Remember that lifeguards are responsible for everyone in the pool area, which is a big job. Never ask a lifeguard to watch your child while you run to the locker room or concession area. 


Get wet, have fun, and always be safe!


Linda Pfeiffer is the aquatic director at the Springfield, Ill., YMCA.


-- Be Healthy Springfield (Ill.)