Water safety is not just about taking precautions to protect swimmers. It’s about removing the numerous distractions that keep adults from being fully diligent and attentive whenever our families and friends are enjoying the water.
To be careful is to be aware about all the areas of risk, to take the extra steps. We marvel at how quickly our children become independent, but this can be deceptive, even through the high school years.
Working together, we can improve the safety of all beaches, riverbanks, pools, spas by increasing the use of layers of protection and promoting uninterrupted supervision
Teach all children to swim. No excuses. If you are supervising another family’s child, don’t just ask them if they can swim. Have them show you that they can swim before you turn them loose in the water.
The American Red Cross encourages all families to enroll in Learn-to-Swim programs by contacting your local pool. It is essential to both learn and practice water safety skills, including First Aid and CPR.
Simple Safety Step Checklist
Teach children to always ask permission to go near water. Never leave a young child unattended near water, and do not trust a child’s life to another child.
Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards. Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone. Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets, but do not rely on life jackets alone.
Teach your kids that they can get more waves if they are closer to shore, because there are typically many more small waves than large waves and larger waves break further out.
Pay attention to others and your surroundings. If you’re wondering why nobody is riding some wonderful looking waves there usually is a good reason, like sharp rocks just below the surface or strong side currents and rip currents that are not always visible. When in doubt about whether you’re going to have trouble after catching a wave, it’s always better to let the wave go.
Try to catch a wave just as it is breaking. Have your boogie boarder start simply by riding the waves straight in to the beach to get the feel of the movement and power. Advanced riders, who can slide to the right or left across the face of a breaking wave, will have longer rides and less chance of running into other boogie boarders.
If a large wave has already broken and you’re in front of it, boogie boarders can either go with it or go under it. Going under a wave is an essential boogie boarding skill. Just dip your head, press down on the front of the board, shut your eyes, and kick with your feet or fins. After the wave goes by, you’ll pop up about exactly where you were instead of halfway to the beach, which is where the large wave would have taken you if you had done nothing at all.