WATER SAFETY CONCERNSBy Wilma Randolf, RN, Staff Medical Writer
PALO ALTO DESK - The National Safety Council's 1994 Accident Facts Report shows that drowning is the second leading cause of death for young people, aged one to twenty-four, and the seventh-leading cause for adults over age twenty-four. So with summer here and hordes heading for the beaches and pools, it's a season for caution.
'Lives can be saved if people use caution around the water and learn the proper rescue techniques for drowning victims' advises Gloria Kruse, health services director of the American Red Cross in Nassau County.
Being prepared and aware of danger signs is the best way to ensure a safe summer season.
The American Red Cross offers the following 12 Water Safety Tips to avoid injuries or drowning.
- Always swim with a buddy; never swim alone.
- Know your swimming limits and stay within them. Don't try to keep up with a stronger swimmer or encourage others to keep up with you if they are not able to. Keep an eye on weaker swimmers - if they appear tired, encourage them to rest out of the water.
- Alcohol and swimming don't mix. Alcohol impairs your judgment, balance and coordination. It affects your swimming and diving skills and reduces your body's ability to stay warm.
- Obey "No Diving" signs which indicate the area is unsafe for headfirst entries. If you don't know the water depth, always enter feet first. Learn the correct way to dive from a qualified instructor.
- Watch out for the "dangerous too's" - too tired, too cold, too far from safety, too much sun, too much strenuous activity.
- Swim in supervised areas only.
- Do not chew gum or eat while you swim; you could easily choke.
- Use common sense about swimming after eating. In general, you don't have to wait an hour after eating before you may safely swim. However, if you have had a large meal, it is wise to let digestion get started before doing strenuous activity such as swimming.
- Always wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket when boating and fishing.
- Know local weather conditions and prepare for electrical storms. Because water conducts electricity, it is wise to stop swimming or boating as soon as you see or hear a storm.
- Know how to prevent, recognize and respond to emergencies. Remember: CHECK-CALL-CARE. Check the scene to ensure it's safe and check the victim, call 911 or your local emergency number and care for the person until help arrives.
In the event of an emergency: Remove the victim from the water. Have someone call 911 or yourlocal emergency number. Check for consciousness and breathing. If the person is not breathing, open the airway and attempt rescue breathing. If breaths do not go in, retilt the head and attempt rescue breathing again.
If air still does not go in, give abdominal thrusts (Heimlich maneuver) for children and adults to clear the airway. Once the airway is clear, provide rescue breathing or CPR as needed.
The American Red Cross offers courses in water safety and CPR classes. For more information, call your local Red Cross Office.