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Staying Safe on July 4 Weekend

July 4, 2021 is just around the corner! It feels like we just skipped over summer last year, so now is the year to get out there and enjoy the holiday. The pools are open! Galveston beaches are sunny and warm! Backyard pools are ready for fun! It's going to be a fantastic Independence Day weekend. Whether you are headed to South Padre Island, Surfside or Galveston beach, sliding at Typhoon Texas, splashing at Schlitterbahn, or lounging in your backyard or at the neighborhood pool, don't forget the most important thing...

WATER SAFETY!

How can you keep your child safer in the water? On average, more children suffer fatal injuries due to drowning than motor vehicle and bicycle accidents combined. You would never put your child in a car without a car seat or let them ride a bicycle without a helmet. Yet this Independence Day, many parents will take their children to the pool without following the proper safety steps.

We have lots of tips for this July 4...here are my top 6!

1. Make your backyard pool safer!

backyard-pool-safetyWhat can you do to make your pool safer? Surround your pool or hot tub on four sides with a fence that's at least 4 feet high and has a self-latching gate. Don't leave toys in the pool area. Toys, floats, and noodles are too tempting for a small child! Put them away every time in a locking storage container.

One of the best things you can do when you are having swim time in your backyard is to have a "Water Watcher!" This is an adult who is responsible for NOTHING other than watching the pool. This person can rotate every 15 minutes. The problem with a pool party is that Everybody thinks that Somebody is watching and it turns out nobody is watching! You can make your own Water Watcher tag out of macaroni or you can download the one below. The "Water Watcher" wears the tag when they are lifeguarding. This tells the other adults and the children who is going to be watching the pool and not to distract them. This applies to the beach as well!

 
2. Know where your child is at all times.

This is a good rule of thumb wherever you are with your children. It is even more important when there is water nearby. How many times have you said "She was just right here!"? Bode Miller’s daughter suffered a fatal drowning when she got away from his wife who was visiting with a neighbor and the kids were playing. "It happened in the blink of an eye!"

Judah Brown drowned after getting down from the table after he finished his snacks. "I sat him down again and began watching the pool and talking to my friend. Judah somehow slipped away from of his chair without anyone seeing and got back into the pool, without his puddle jumper." (More on this later)

When you are swimming, make sure you are always within arm's reach. This is true even if they are "just in the hot tub". Many pools today have a beach entry or a baby pool that is shallow. You still need to be no more than an arm’s length away. Children can drown in as little as 2 inches of water.

3. Never rely on water wings, floaties, inner tubes or noodles. Period.

"Can my child wear floaties?" We get this question a lot!

No. Puddle jumpers and floaties give kids and parents a false sense of security. Parents feel that as long as their child has on their puddle jumper they are safe in the water. Children don't understand that it is the puddle jumper that keeps them floating, and not their own ability. The puddle jumper makes them brave and unafraid to walk into the water without it on. This is how Judah Brown drowned. Instead, if you are out in the ocean, lake, water park, or boating, use a US Coast Guard-approved PFD (Personal Flotation Device), i.e. a LIFEJACKET!

howey-lifeguard

Parents think that if a child falls off their noodle or their floaties fall off, they will yell for help! Drowning is very often completely silent. It does not look like it does on TV. There are no splashes, no noises to indicate that it is happening. It happens almost entirely underwater.

The drowning process can be started in as little as 20 seconds. How quickly that process is stopped is what determines the complications from drowning. The statistics we have are only for fatal drownings. Based on emergency room data, for every fatal drowning there are at least 5 more non-fatal drownings that occur.

 
4. Have the appropriate safety gear in case of an emergency.

What do you need to have by the pool in case there is an emergency? Make sure you have a phone near the pool that is for emergency use only. Make sure you have something near the pool that can be extended or thrown to someone in distress in the water. Lastly, learn CPR!

 
5. Be extra careful in Galveston and other shores!

galveston-beach-julyEspecially at the beach, it's important to be mindful of water safety. Know where the guard towers are, whether lifeguards are on duty, and take note of the safety flags displayed along the shore. Even if you are a good swimmer, ocean water can catch you by surprise. Red flags flying at Galveston beach mean that there is a danger for strong surf and rip currents. Yellow flags mean be extra cautious, and Green flags mean that the water should be relatively safe.

Never swim alone at any beach, and don't venture too far out with proper safety equipment.

Since it's especially warm this Independence Day weekend, don't forget to watch out for jelly fish!

 
6. Sign up for swimming lessons!

According to the National Institute of Health, formal swimming lessons reduces the risk of drowning by 88%.

That statistic enough should make you sign up for swim lessons today! But be careful! All swimming lessons are not the same. Make sure you do your homework before beginning a lesson program. Make sure that the swim lessons are teaching the whole child. You do not want a program that is too easy or one that is too harsh. The former will not teach your children how to save themselves in case of an emergency. The latter can have long term effects on your child’s future love of the water.

No one can drown-proof your child. Be wary of anyone that says they can. We have been teaching swim lessons in the Houston area since 1964. Hundreds of thousands of children have learned to swim at Houston Swim Club Swim School. We make sure all children receive self-rescue skills in a way that also helps them learn to love the water for life!

After your child learns to swim, you still MUST watch them every minute you are near the water.

We are enrolling children for swim lessons now! Find a class today.

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www.houstonswimclub.com 
www.stopdrowningnow.org 

icon-authorWritten by Tracy Laman, Aquatics Director of Houston Swim Club and Owner, Houston Swim Club League City / West Nasa

Jun 29, 2021
"Water Safety" 

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