How Do You Stay Safe During Swimming?

Ask The Doctor > Children's Health > How Do You Stay Safe During Swimming?

Swimming is an exciting recreational activity or sports that adult male, female and children participate in for fun or competition. Different countries have their swimming seasons. However, in North America, club swimming has two major seasons. The short-course season is where swimmers swim in 25-yard pools and this season lasts from late-September to March ending. The long-course season takes place in 50-meter pools and lasts from April to August ending. High school swimming usually starts around the end of October or beginning of November and end around February or March depending on the championship the schools are involved in. There is also spring and summer swimming, which is most often done for recreation and with families beginning in May.

As exciting as swimming is, it is important to observe basic swimming pool rules for safety. There are several rules that can ensure your safety and that of your kids, including:
• Walking on the sides of the pool instead of running. Pool sides are usually slippery, so do not run on them to avoid falling and sustaining injury or even death.
• Do not dive alone. It is very wrong to dive without supervision from a more experience swimmer or instructor. Diving in shallow pool can also lead to death or severe brain damage. • • Do not chew gum. It is also very wrong to chew gum when swimming, as you can choke severely. On a smaller note, if the gum falls from your mouth, it dirties the pool.

We also want to share some more pool rules that people are less aware of but are just as important. Do not enter the pool being dirty. Take a shower first before you enter. Do not urinate inside the pool. Excuse yourself and go to the nearest restroom.  Avoid going to the pool if you have a flu, open wounds or wart,s so that you do not end up contaminating other swimmers. It is important you wear a swim cap if you have hair to avoid clogging the pool filter or disturbing other pool users.

Under no circumstance must you swim under the influence of drug or alcohol. This can easily lead to drowning.  Swimming in other water bodies other than residential pools is dangerous if a lifeguard is not close by. Again, do not swim during a thunderstorm. Lightening usually strikes water and you could get electrocuted. Use proper flotation devices like life jackets and life preservers when necessary or when surrounded by untrained swimmers. Inflatable toys, rafts, air mattresses and water wings are not lifesaving devices and should not be use as such.

Most importantly, kids must be supervised when they are swimming. When supervising children, you must stay alert, vigilant and never turn away or get distracted. Stay off your cellphone when supervising swimmers. Ensure your swimming pool is fenced at least four feet high with a self-closing or latching gate. It is also very important for adults, especially parents and children tenders, to learn basic first aid and CPR measures. These procedures can help save the lives of children and adults alike.

For a case in which you find yourself in a situation where someone is drowning, specifically your child. How should you react to save the child and not to drown yourself? 

If are able to get the child out of the water, quickly ensure you get oxygen to his brain and organs. Rescue breaths should be performed before chest compressions on the victim. This is why the knowledge of CPR is highly recommended.

While you call for help, try to wake the casualty by pinching his or her earlobe or tapping your hand against the floor near their ear, asking them if they can hear you. If there is no response, lay the victim on their back and tilt their chin and head backwards to help clear the airway. This could be enough to get them breathing again. Furthermore, give 5 rescue breaths. Pinch the nose and keep the head tilted back as you breathe into the mouth from yours, making as good a seal as you can with your mouth over theirs.  Continue by performing the CPR procedure on the casualty. Using your two hands together, one on top of the other, push down right in the center of the chest firmly, with your arms straight. Push down 5-6cm each time, twice a second to get them breathing well again. Lastly, give up to 30 chest compressions accompanied by 2 rescue breathing until breathing stabilizes. Keep in mind 9/11 should be on their way by now. If the victim does not begin to breath, keep trying. Afterward, place them in a recovery position where they are lying on their side, with the top leg and arm bent to prop them up, and their head tilted slightly back to help keep the airway open. A defibrillator can be used to resuscitate the victim if any are available. However, ensure the part of the body you are attaching the defibrillator pad is dry.

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Dr. Jimmy Obaji M.D.

Dr. Jimmy Obaji completed his residency in Family Medicine at the University of Manitoba. He currently operates a walk-in-clinic in downtown Toronto.

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