by: Karen Tomky, MSN, FNP-BC
Hot and long days in Colorado are an invitation for family, friends, and outdoor enthusiasts to seek out the lakes, streams, rivers and swimming pools to cool off and have fun. Activities like swimming, boating, and rafting can be lots of fun, but can also be very dangerous and turn tragic in minutes.
According to the CDC, every day, about ten people die from unintentional drowning. Of these, two will be children aged 14 or younger. Drowning is the fifth leading cause of unintentional injury death for people of all ages, and the second leading cause of injury death for children age 1 – 14 years. In fact, more children aged 1-4 years will die from drowning than any other cause of death except birth defects.
Do you and your family members know how to survive in water? Here are a few of the basics:
- Learn to swim. This includes different swimming strokes that can save energy to prevent you from panicking and tiring out in the water.
- Life vests should be worn at all times in lakes, rivers, and even in pools. Arm floaters aren’t very helpful for children – they need a life vest. If they don’t have one, put out the word among family that they make great gifts for birthdays, Christmas or “because we love you” gifts.
- Take a water safety course, either online or at your local swimming pool, Red Cross, Boy Scouts, YMCA, etc.
- Never let a person out of your sight in the water, especially children.
- Purchase a throwable life saving device, such as a ResQ Disc, that the person in trouble can grab on to be pulled to safety. http://www.water-rescues.com/
Finally, get your community involved in sponsoring a program. The kids in my farm family learned to swim and took life-saving as students at Crowley County Schools. In the summer, the school board sponsored a bus for 2 weeks to pick up kids to go to Fowler or Rocky Ford pools and take swimming lessons. To this day, I value this skill and still enjoy swimming and water skiing. I have even saved a few lives!