Water-focused holiday destinations close to oceans, seas, and lakes are a top choice in warmer months, but taking steps to stay safe is key. Every day, around 10 people die from unintentional drowning, with children aged one to four being at a particularly high risk Whether you have chosen a lake closeby for camping, or you are planning a trip abroad in 2021 to the beachside destination of your dreams, bear in mind that water safety should always be tackled through a multifaceted strategy.
Knowing Your Future Destination
Research well into the specific risks you may encounter at your chosen destination. Some beaches are known for specific risks such as strong currents, sudden drop-off in levels, high waves, slippery rocks, and waves that break on a ledge people may be standing on. By reading beforehand, you can become accustomed to the signs and flags used by safety employees to indicate whether or not specific zones are safe for swimming. Most safe beaches will have lifeguards, first aid facilities, and other services during popular beach hours so make sure you swim close to the shore and be aware of where different staff is located in case you should require their aid.
Honing Swimming and CPR Skills Prior to Takeoff
In the months and weeks leading up to your water-based vacation, your water safety can be boosted in two main ways: by ensuring everyone travelling knows how to swim, and by learning key CPR techniques. With respect to CPR, although courses are available online, it is always best to complete a short course in person so you can perfect breath-to-chest pump ratios, know the difference between how to react to an incident in a child and adult, and how much pressure to apply. When it comes to swimming lessons, aim to do more than master specific strokes. You should be comfortable staying afloat when there is a rip current, learn to swim parallel to the shore, and use other techniques that can lower panic and help you get to your chosen destination safely.
Bringing the Appropriate Gear
If canoeing, paddling, water skiing, scuba diving, or rafting appear frequently on your ‘to do’ list while you are on vacation, it may be worth investing in quality gear such as helmets, life jackets, and specialized footwear. Often, companies that organize these activities will have quality equipment available, but if you will be undertaking many adventures on your own, then bringing your own customized, well-fitting gear may be your best bet. You should also read up on boating safety laws if you will be sailing or speed boating. Currently, federal law requires all children under the age of 13 to wear a lifejacket on a moving boat. Children who are not swimmers should opt for a Type 2 vest, which has greater buoyancy than a Type 3 personal flotation device.
Strength in Numbers
Regardless of how good a swimmer you are, avoid swimming in open water alone if you are unfamiliar with the area. If you are with minors, swim close to the shore and ensure that each child has one guardian that is watching them at all times, Remember that drowning can take seconds and can be silent and undramatic and therefore very hard to spot. The person guarding the child should abstain from alcohol and any substances that may affect their concentration. Avoid swimming in any water that may have currents, underwater obstructions, or cold pockets. For safety’s sake, always stay close to the shore and ensure your feet can touch the ground. Never dive into water, since you don’t know how deep it is or if there are fallen tree trunks, rocks, and other features that could cause a concussion.
If you are planning a holiday filled with water activities this summer, try to choose a spot known for safety and for having lifeguards, emergency services, and good signage at all times. Ensure you bring the right gear you will need to dive, row, or simply swim, bringing a certified life jacket for children and beginner swimmers. Finally, use basic commonsense to avoid accidents. Enter the water feet-first, don’t tread into lakes and rivers you are unfamiliar with, and keep an eye on every single child that is in the water – even if they are very close to the shore.