2024 Healthy and Safe Swimming Week

May 20-26, 2024, marks the 20th Healthy and Safe Swimming Week. Let’s dive into swim safety and learn important tips to stay safe while having fun in the water. 

Understanding the Risks: 

Drowning can happen quickly and quietly. Even if someone looks like they’re okay, they might be in trouble. It’s important to know what to look for and how to help. 

  • Usually, drowning people are unable to call out for help since their body is focused on breathing. 
  • Drowning people’s mouths typically bob above and below the surface of the water.  
  • Individuals who are drowning are not usually able to wave for help. The instinctive drowning response forces them to use their arms to push down on the surface of the water to keep their head above water. 
  • Because their arms are used in the Instinctive Drowning Response, they also cannot grab onto a rescuer or rescue equipment.  
  • During the Instinctive Drowning Response, the drowning person’s body remains upright in a vertical position, and they do not kick their legs.  
  • People can only struggle this way for 20 to 60 seconds before they go under water for good.  

Adult Supervision: 

When children are near water, supervision and safety is critical to prevent drowning. Children do not always struggle in the water. They can drown without making a sound. 

Swimming Lessons and Skills: 

Basic skills include:  

  • Entering the water 
  • Surfacing 
  • Turning around 
  • Propelling oneself for at least 25 yards 
  • Floating on or treading water
  • Exiting the water 

High quality swimming lessons will include additional potentially life-saving skills such as self-rescue, swimming in clothes and life jackets, and falling into the water. While they can contribute to water safety, swimming lessons do not erase the risks of swimming. Conditions such as water temperature, air temperature, weather, water depth, water movement and situational and individual factors can affect an individual’s swimming ability. Parents and caregivers should work with swimming instructors to monitor their child’s progress in the water.  

Safety Gear: 

Wearing a life jacket is like having a superhero cape in the water! It keeps everyone safe, even the not-so-great swimmers. 

Remember that floaties are not safety devices and can often provide a false sense of safety to guardians and swimmers. When these toys are in use, the caregiver must still provide active supervision.  

Water Barriers: 

It’s important to have barriers and safety controls around water to keep everyone safe. Putting up fences and alarms around pools is like building a castle to protect from danger. 

Emergency Preparedness and CPR: 

Learning CPR and what to do in an emergency is like having a superpower to save lives. Let’s make sure we know what to do if someone needs help in the water. 

If drowning has occurred and the victim is not breathing, bystander-initiated CPR is the most effective way to promote a positive outcome. CPR consists of rescue breathing, chest compressions and use of an automatic external defibrillator (AED). An AED is a machine used during a heart attack to restart the heart. 

Community and Water Education: 

We can all be water safety superheroes by helping others stay safe. The more we know, the safer we’ll be! Remember to never swim alone, stay away from deep or unknown water and spread the word. 

During the 20th Healthy and Safe Swimming Week, make every splash a safe one! By learning about drowning prevention and being water safety superheroes, we can ensure everyone stays safe and has fun near water! Visit www.SwimHealthyVA.com for more resources.