CrossRhodes Mike’s Top Ten Safety Tips for Summer

Mike McKenna is a Red Cross aquatics instructor who also works at Barrington Yacht Club, Brown & Roger Williams University. A water safety expert, Mike is sharing his “Top Ten” list of safety tips for summer. Save this section and share it with children, grandkids, friends and babysitters — so everyone will keep safety at the top of their list this summer!

  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.
  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 course and purchase the Red Cross “Basic Water Rescue” manual. In an emergency, knowing what to do can mean the difference between life and death.

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