Make a SPLASH with water safety tips

For many in Southwest Georgia, school is out and Summer outdoor activities are heating up. Southwest Health District has tips to help residents to stay safe and healthy while enjoying time in the water this Summer.

“Swimming and water recreation are wonderful exercise,” says Southwest Health District Director Dr. Charles Ruis. “However, we in public health urge families to take the proper steps to ensure fun doesn’t turn to tragedy as a result of unintentional drowning.”

As an intervention to reduce water-related child deaths and injuries, Georgia has created SPLASH as an all-encompassing water safety campaign, Ruis said.

The initiative encourages Georgians to follow six key techniques when enjoying activities at pools, lakes, beaches and other bodies of water.

· Supervision – There should always be an adult present when a child is around water, and they must have their eyes on the child at all times.

· Prevention – Fences and gates around pools are among the barriers that help keep children away from water. Drain covers can prevent entrapment in pool and hot tub drains and broken or loose covers should be fixed immediately.

·  Look before you leap – Always be aware of your surroundings. Before jumping into any bodies of water, especially lakes and rivers, take note of how deep it is.

· Arms-length (Safe rescue) – Adults should be arms-length to children in water to ensure safe rescue. If a child is in danger, safety tools such as a life float or life hook should be nearby at all times. Do not jump into the water if you cannot swim.

· Swim lessons – Learning how to swim with lessons can prevent a lot of water-related accidents. Find classes in your community or your local Red Cross or YMCA.

· Have a water safety plan – A family can work together to come up with their own water safety plan so everyone will know what to do in case an emergency arises.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, drowning kills more young children one through four years old than anything else except birth defects.

“Unintentional drowning is the fifth leading cause of unintentional injury death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” Ruis said. “The demographic most at risk for drowning are children one through four years old.”

“Drowning prevention is vital,” Ruis said. “You can help prevent children from drowning not only by teaching swimming skills, but by having them wear life vests and swimming under the close supervision of parents, caregivers or lifeguards who know cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)”.

Other healthy swimming practices are also important he said. “Whether in the pool, the hot tub or water playground, we can all help protect ourselves and our loved ones from germs by following five simple but effective steps.” Don’t swim or let children swim when sick with diarrhea; Don’t swallow the water; Take kids on bathroom breaks every hour; Check diapers, and change them in a bathroom or diaper-changing area-not poolside – to keep germs away from the pool; Shower before getting in the water. Rinsing off in the shower for just one minute helps get rid of any germs that might be present.

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