No matter what time of year it is, water safety is always a concern for first responders — and it should be for you, as well. From indoor pool parties to Spring break vacations, the possibility of drowning incidents never goes away. Learning water safety basics, as well as how high tech solutions can help in emergency situations, is a crucial component in keeping yourself and your loved ones safe.
Swimming lessons are always a line of defense against water mishaps, and you’ll likely find that your local rec center has lessons for even the smallest swimmers. If they haven’t had lessons, don’t let children in the water unless you’re holding onto them.
More importantly, keep an eye on your kids whenever they’re in the water, whether it’s the bathtub or the beach. If you can’t be with them, ensure that their caregiver is responsible, as well as trained in both swimming and CPR.
Teen and Young Adult Precautions
Pool parties are notoriously rowdy, and teens and young adults don’t always know how to judge the water hazards of hectic social situations.
It’s important to talk to kids about how drinking alcohol can increase the chances of falling into the pool, or of interfering with the ability to swim.
When teens aren’t strong swimmers, you can’t always count to them to admit their own limits. Be prepared to tell them they can’t attend an event that sounds dangerous, or require that they take CPR and/or swimming classes prior to a Spring Break trip to the beach.
In general, swimming with no one around is never a good idea. But if you absolutely have to get your laps in, choose wisely. Your own or a neighborhood pool make safer choices than unpredictable oceans, rivers or even lakes.
It’s also easy to swim further from shore than you meant to, whether you’re in a large lake or the sea. Keep in mind that your energy has to carry you both ways — so feeling strong as you decide to swim further out isn’t necessarily going to reflect your stamina as you begin to swim back.
Smart911 and Other Safety Tips
There are additional ways you can reduce the chances of a fun outing turning tragic. Learning CPR is your first line of defense should a swimmer in your group have a water-related emergency.
It’s also helpful to survey the surroundings and situation. If you’re on a boat trip, make sure the person handling the boat doesn’t consume alcohol, and that enough lifejackets are aboard.
At pool parties, keep an eye on whether drains or other underwater features might pose a hazard. Even in shallow pools, kids’ hair can snag on suction devices or fittings.
Most importantly, add safety apps such as Smart911 to your mobile device. Of course, you can always count on the traditional emergency operator to handle your call as promptly as possible. But studies show that using the Smart911 app can shave precious minutes off the time between contacting emergency services, and when the first responders arrive.
The Smart911 app, which locally is available throughout all of Montgomery County and the Woodlands, cuts down on response times because the dispatch operator receiving it already has much of the information that you have previously entered. Having ready information allows him or her to move quickly to elicit details about the current emergency.
When you’re calling from home, the operator will know any information you’ve previously shared, which might include directions (important when your location is hard to find), household members and their respective medical conditions, and details such as home and property layouts. That means that if you ever have a water-related emergency at your home, whether it’s in the bathtub or in the pool, the first responders will know exactly where to go.
Smart911 is even more important if you're calling 9-1-1 from a mobile phone while at a location other than your home. Whether you're at the beach for the day, floating the river, or on a boat in the middle of a lake - when you dial 9-1-1 from a mobile phone, the 9-1-1 call takers have very little information to help you – only your phone number and a very general sense of your location. With a Smart911 profile dispatchers will easily be able to locate your cellular device and pinpoint your exact location so that they can provide assistance more quickly. The minutes a Smart911 profile saves could save a life.