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PRESS CONTACT INFO

ROBIN ERICKSON
Director of Communications

PHONE
(401) 831-7700 x101
E-MAIL
[email protected]

Tuesday, June 3, 2003
Red Cross Offers Water Safety Tips Following Drowning Accident in Exeter -- Over 300 Children Die in Drownings Each Year

Every year, over 4,500 Americans die from drowning accidents --- over 300 are children under the age of five. Following the tragic drowning accident yesterday involving an Exeter toddler, the American Red Cross of Rhode Island is urging all parents to review water safety tips.

"Accidents can happen in a matter of seconds," Sarah E. Bilofsky, spokeswoman for the American Red Cross of Rhode Island said. "This time of year, with children heading outdoors more often, it is vital that parents keep safety in mind."

Below is the American Red Cross "Top 10" list of water safety tips:

  1. Learn to swim. This is the most important thing you can teach your child. The Red Cross offers swim instruction for every age and level of ability. Make water safety instruction a top priority. For information about Red Cross aquatics instruction, call 401.831.7700 x110.
  2. Swim where there's a lifeguard on duty. An emergency can happen in seconds. Having someone nearby who is trained to handle emergency situations is critical especially with small children.
  3. Keep young children under the constant supervision of a parent or responsible adult. Inflatable "floaties" or inner tubes cannot take the place of a set of adult eyes. Make sure your child care provider understands that children should never be left alone even for a second.
  4. Wear sunscreen. Too much sun causes skin cancer and premature aging. Choose sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15, and make sure it protects against UVB and UVA rays. Limit sun exposure (especially for young children) between 10am and 2pm; this is when ultra violet rays are most harmful.
  5. Watch weather forecasts and don't swim during an electrical storm. If you see a storm, fog, or high winds --- get out of the water! Water conducts electricity, making the pool or ocean a dangerous place during a storm. Approaching storms can also cause heavy surf it is not the time to take kids swimming!
  6. Don't dive or jump into shallow water. Every year, over 1,000 disabling neck and back injuries occur as the result of unsafe water activities. Learn proper diving and jumping techniques, and don't dive into water that is less than 9 feet deep unless you've been specifically trained.
  7. Wear a life jacket when boating. That applies to everyone, no matter how good a swimmer you are. It is too difficult to put on a life jacket once you're in the water. Once your fingers get cold manipulating them to secure the jacket is tough. Make sure your life jacket has the Coast Guard Stamp of approval.
  8. Know your limits. Be aware of the "too's:" too tired, too cold, too far from shore, too much sun, too much strenuous activity. Don't let peer pressure influence your decisions; know what you can handle. Never mix alcohol and water activities.
  9. Be prepared. Parents, grandparents, babysitters anyone supervising a child near water should know CPR and First Aid. Sign up for a Red Cross training and purchase the Red Cross "Basic Water Rescue" manual. Call 401.831.7700 for class times and locations. In an emergency, knowing what to do can mean the difference between life and death.
  10. Have fun! Once you take these steps to make your swimming or boating experience safe, enjoy it! The Ocean State offers endless opportunities to enjoy the water so get trained and get wet!

The Red Cross has a full list of summer safety tips on its website ... CLICK HERE for more information.

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