The summer heat drives everyone to the beach, but did you know the United States Lifesaving Association reported 95,023 near-drowning rescues and 164 fatalities in 2015 at various beaches across the country?
That doesn’t mean you have to roll up your towel and stay inside all summer. But if you’re heading out for a beach vacation, don’t get caught up in the fun and forget about safety.
Remember These 5 Important Water Safety Tips
1. Test Flotation Devices Before Use
Whether you’re at the beach or the pool, young swimmers should always have flotation devices—life vests, water noodles, inflatable tubes—but it’s not enough to hand one over, then kick back and rest your eyes.
Check the flotation device before letting your child use it in the water. When swimming in a pool or shallow beach waters, simply tossing it in and putting some weight on it will let you know it works.
If you’re going out in a boat however, you need to make sure all flotation devices meet the U.S. Coast Guard’s requirements for your child’s age and the swimming environment. Check specific requirements here before buying anything.
2. Learn CPR and Lifeguarding Skills
Not everyone has a CPR certification, so if you don’t, make sure someone in your vacation group does. Check beforehand, and if no one is certified, consider doing so yourself.
The short course can be taken at most Red Cross locations across the country. It costs around $70 and the CPR/AED class takes less than two hours to complete. Get online and head to RedCross.org to find a training course near you.
3. Review the Safety Rules
A great way to keep water safety at the top everyone’s minds is to review the safety rules at the pool or beach. This is especially helpful for kids, whose only thought is about jumping into the water as quickly as possible.
Take a minute to read through the rules together, allowing kids to ask questions if they don’t understand something. Then, use this moment to discuss your rules as a group—When is it okay to go in the water? Where can the kids swim? How often should they get out to reapply sunscreen?
4. Always Be Aware
It’s easy to slip into vacation mode, kick your feet up and rest your eyes. However, when kids are swimming, it’s important to be in awareness mode at all times—even if there is a lifeguard on duty.
To make this easier for you, give your child boundaries for where he/she can swim. This will make it easier for you to keep track of their whereabouts and avoid that heart attack moment when you don’t see them in your immediate view.
5. Be Smart With Alcohol
Drinking at the beach or around the pool is one of the best parts of vacation. But it can also be dangerous if adults aren’t careful. While no one is here to tell you how much you can drink, be cognoscente of how you’re feeling before going in the water. Alcohol impairs your judgment and your motor skills, making swimming a potentially dangerous drinking activity while drinking on vacation.
If possible, nominate one person to stay sober so if someone tries to do something they shouldn’t, that person is there to rein them in.
Summer vacation is a time to have fun and stay cool by the water, but nothing ruins a vacation like someone getting hurt, or worse. Whether you’re traveling with kids or just a few friends, remember to put safety first. Then, all you have to worry about is having fun and relaxing.
Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years. She is currently a lifestyle blogger and the editor of Whooo’s Reading and Carpe Daily. When she's not writing or editing, she's trying new DIY projects around the house or training fitness clients. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07.