Every year thousands of people die by drowning. Many of these tragedies could be prevented if everyone understood the principals of water safety, water rescue, and resuscitation. With the flooding and hurricane threats growing every year, it is a better time than ever to outline some information and skills related to water safety.
Many drowning accidents occur in and around the home when people feel at their safest. This is particularly true with respect to children. Water accidents can happen while housework is being done, when an unexpected guest arrives, or while the parent is relaxing for a moment. There are some safety precautions which can help the home become a safer place around water:
-Never leave young children alone in the bath. Always check on older children and elderly people at regular intervals as they can easily slip, be knocked unconscious and drown.
-Keep bath plugs out of reach of small children since they soon learn how to put them in and turn the taps.
-Do not leave water unsupervised in open topped containers such as buckets, sinks and washing-up bowls. People can drown in as little as 2 inches of water.
-Always cover fishponds with chicken wire or nylon mesh as it is easy to overbalance and fall in.
-Never leave children unsupervised near water. Even paddling pools are dangerous. You should always empty them as soon as the children have finished playing in them.
-If you have a private swimming pool ensure that it is fenced to deter people from swimming on their own.
-Ensure that garden gates are kept closed to prevent children from wandering off and falling into local streams or ponds.
There are a number of hazards we face when taking part in water sports or fishing, or merely taking a stroll in the wilderness.
If you wish to participate in water sports be sure that you learn from the experts. Join a club to learn the safe methods of taking part and always use the correct equipment. This will minimize the possibility of an accident. When going swimming, you should find the safest areas to swim, remembering to stay in areas between the safety flags that are patrolled by lifeguards. When swimming in the sea, always swim parallel to the shore as it is easy to be carried far out. Be careful when diving to check under the water surface and avoid swimming near rocks, piers, and breakwaters.
When parking your car near water, you should always park parallel to the water’s edge on jetties, cliff tops, or docks. A number of drownings occur each year because drivers park their cars carelessly and roll into the water.
During cold weather ponds and canals become frozen over. It may be tempting to go on the ice but often it is unsafe to do so. The shock of falling through the ice into cold water may cause unconsciousness and so make self-help impossible. Anyone who falls through the ice may also be carried under by the current and not be able to break through the surface.
Most importantly, whenever you plan to participate in water activities such as fishing and boating, never go alone and tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return. Our collective responsibility is the best proven method to safety around water.