STK - boy learn to swim with  red foam noodle in indoor pool

Summer is upon us and with all the fun comes risks we need to be concerned about.

A recent Red Cross survey found that eight out of 10 Americans are planning summer water activities, such as going to the beach, pool, water park, boating or fishing this summer. One-third of all Americans plan to swim at a place without a lifeguard but an even more alarming statistic is that 54% of all Americans can’t swim or don’t have all of the basic swimming skills.

To be Red Cross Ready this summer around water, follow these basic tips:

  1. Learn to swim and only swim in designated areas ideally supervised by lifeguards.
  2. Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone.
  3. Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone.
  4. Provide close and constant attention to children and inexperienced swimmers you are supervising in or near the water. Avoid distractions while supervising.
  5. Limit the amount of direct sunlight received between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 15. Reapply often.
  6. Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water regularly, even if not thirsty. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine.
  7. For a backyard pool, have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cellphone, life jackets and a first aid kit.
  8. Secure the backyard pool with appropriate barriers, including four-sided fencing.
  9. Know how and when to call 911 or the local emergency number.
  10. Never leave a young child unattended near water, and do not trust a child’s life to another child. Teach children to always ask permission to go near water. If a child is missing, check the water first.

The American Red Cross is continuing their national campaign to reduce the drowning rate by 50 percent in 50 cities over the next three to five years. Last year marked 100 years of swimming safety education for the Red Cross. As part of this campaign, the Red Cross plans to teach 50,000 more people in these cities how to swim and is urging people across the country to make sure that they and their families can swim. People should also know basic water safety to help them make good choices around the water. Finally, everyone should know how to respond in an emergency.

A new national survey shows that people believe they are better swimmers than they actually are. While most Americans say they can swim, only about half of them can perform basic swimming skills. The national survey conducted for the Red Cross found that while 80% of Americans said they could swim, only 56 percent of the self-described swimmers can perform all five of the basic skills for swimming ability, which are

  1. Step or jump into the water over your head.
  2. Return to the surface and float or tread water for one minute.
  3. Turn around in a full circle and find an exit.
  4. Swim 25 yards to the exit.
  5. Exit from the water. If in a pool, be able to exit without using the ladder.
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