Millions have made great memories on South Florida’s shores. But a lack of preparedness can turn a great day on the water into a scary situation.
Drowning is the No. 1 cause of death for children under age 5 in Miami-Dade County and throughout Florida. But you can lower your risk and keep your family safe by following a few simple steps.
Never leave a child unattended
Floaties and inner tubes can’t replace an attentive set of eyes. And you can’t rely solely on lifeguards in public swimming facilities, as they’re trying to watch everyone. The best defense against drowning is paying attention to children in and around water. If you’re in a group, designate a water watcher whose sole responsibility is to look out for the kids. Keep a phone nearby in case of an emergency. And if a child goes missing at the pool, always look in the water first. A few extra seconds without oxygen can make a lifetime of difference.
Learn to swim
Swimming isn’t just great exercise and a fun activity. It can also save a life. And it’s just as important for parents to understand water safety and to know how to swim as it is for their children. Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces’ Learn2Swim program offers classes for parents and tots (ages 2 to 3) all the way to adult classes (age 18 and up). The program also offers lessons for children with disabilities and has a scholarship program to offset costs.
Random bystanders are often the first to aid a drowning victim, so knowing CPR (short for cardiopulmonary resuscitation) goes a long way in keeping people safe around the water. The American Red Cross offers CPR certification classes around Miami, though you have to remember to keep renewing your certification. It’s also a good idea to keep a first aid kit near pools at home.
Have the proper equipment
You can avoid accidents with home pools and spas by taking safety precautions. Make sure pools and spas are surrounded by a fence on all sides that is at least four feet tall and features a self-latching gate. Also, purchase and install pool and spa covers with locking mechanisms if you can. Checking to make sure you have the proper grate and drain covers is crucial to avoiding entrapments and suction-related accidents. And you can also install surface wave or underwater alarms for extra awareness.
Know your swimming area
More than half the drownings of people 15 years and older occur in natural water settings. Pool safety rules still apply, but there are other precautions to take when swimming in oceans, lakes and canals, too. For instance, you should never dive into unknown waters. You should also know the conditions below the surface and be cautious of drop off areas. Paying attention to the water conditions – both current and approaching – and swimming with a buddy are also helpful practices. As are these last two: (1) Always swim parallel to a rip current until it’s safe to head for shore, and (2) when in doubt, don’t go out.
LEARN2SWIM: Every swim lesson counts
Every Lesson Counts is a water safety campaign in Miami-Dade County. The goal is to teach one million swim lessons annually. The campaign brings together County-wide locations where you can take swim lessons. It also highlights the importance that every child should learn to swim. Learn More
Above content provided by Parks-Foundation of Miami-Dade and Miami-Dade Parks & Recreation