By DENNIS COCKERAM
KENNESAW, Ga. — This summer is in its waking moments, so families are making their last-minute trips to pools, waterparks and beaches.
Summer is the time for fun and relaxation but is also the time when many water-related injuries and deaths occur.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury death in the United States with an average of 10 drowning fatalities per day. One in five drownings that occur happen to children under the age of 14 years old.
“The most common type of drowning we see is when parents are having conversations in the water and not paying attention to their child,” said Mari Shoji, a lifeguard instructor at the Ed Isakson Alpharetta YMCA. “It only takes a second for a child to slip under the waters surface after letting go from the wall or a noodle.”
Even children who know how to swim should still be supervised and never be allowed to swim alone.
Parents often think that, if the child knows how to swim, then he or she should be fine. That isn’t necessarily the case in many situations and creates a false sense of security.
“After a long winter when most children don’t spend any time in a pool, it’s not uncommon for their swimming skills to diminish,” said Lauren Dreyer, a swim instructor at Ed Isakson Alpharetta YMCA. “It’s never a bad idea to enroll your child in swim lessons before the summer begins to brush up on their skills and to prepare them for all the time that they’ll be spending in the water, whether it’s at their neighborhood pool or the lake or beach.”
According to Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine in 2009, swim lessons can help reduce kids from drowning by 88 percent.
Drowning isn’t the only thing to be concerned about when visiting the pool or beach.
Staying hydrated is also very important, especially during the hottest part of the days during the summer.
“At least once a month, we have to alert EMS because a patron wasn’t adequately hydrated while laying out in the sun all day,” said Shoji. “Usually, they stand up and begin feeling weak, lightheaded and exhibit a shortness of breath.
“In many cases they are able to alert a lifeguard and are able to get the help and attention that they need, but — unfortunately in some cases — they faint and fall down immediately after getting up.”
Blocking the sun
Along with staying hydrated while at the pool, sunscreen should never be left at home.
Sunscreen with an SPF of 30 should be the bare minimum and should be applied every two hours while outside. This will ensure you are protected from the suns harmful UV rays, even while jumping in and out of the water.
Shoji had a few other recommendations for people who find themselves outside by the pool during the summer.
“Hats and sunglasses are always a good idea but also try to limit the amount of time by the pool between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. as this is when the UV rays are at its strongest,” she said. “Swim shirts are also not a bad idea for younger children and infants.”
Having fun is key to a great summer, but it shouldn’t be had without precautions.