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Water and Wave Safety Basics

Water and Wave Safety Basics

Water and Wave Safety Basics

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. We marvel at how quickly our children become independent, but this can be deceptive, even through the high school years.

By working together, we can improve the safety of all beaches, riverbanks, pools and spas by increasing the layers of protection and promoting uninterrupted supervision.

Getting Ready

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

  • Is there a fence installed around all pools that you use? Look for smaller openings or gaps that a young child might try unknowingly.
  • Do the pools and beaches you enjoy have proper safety equipment? This should include drain covers, barriers, alarms and sensors.
  • Do you have access to appropriate equipment? Reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit are essential safety equipment.
  • If you are not available, even momentarily, is there someone else with you who can watch children in and around the water? The "buddy system" can also apply to those providing supervision!
  • Do you and the other adults know how and when to call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number? Do not assume that your concern for safety is shared by others.
Water and Wave Safety Basics

Line of Sight is All Right

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.

Beach and Boogie Board Safety

Teach your kids that they can catch more waves if they are closer to shore. Typically, there are more wave breaks that occur closer to shore.

Pay attention to others and your surroundings. If you're wondering why nobody is riding wonderful looking waves there usually is a good reason, like sharp rocks just below the surface or strong currents that are not always visible. When in doubt about 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 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 close to where you were instead of halfway to the beach.