Being a coastal state, swimming is one of the top summer activities to do here in Maine. From the ocean to lakes, rivers, and pools, taking a dip is an easy way to beat the heat and stay cool. However, like many outdoor activities, it also poses a lot of risks if you don’t remain alert and take precautions. According to the Center for Disease Control, there are 3,536 unintentional drownings per year in the United States. Water-related accidents are the second leading cause of injury or death for children between 1-14 years old and the fifth leading cause for individuals of all ages.

Here are some of the best ways to keep you and your loved ones safe.

General Water Safety

Swim lessons: The first step in water safety is to enroll children in swimming lessons early on. Drowning risk can decrease as much as 88% for children 1-4 years old if they have taken swimming lessons. Even adults can benefit from a swim lesson refresher if it’s been a while since they’ve been in a body of water.

Learn CPR: The Red Cross offers CPR classes across the country, and being certified could end up being the difference between life or death in the event of an accident. Parents and kids should learn the basics of CPR and know the proper procedure to help build confidence and the skills needed in a life-saving situation.

Supervise children: If they’re in your backyard pool, at a public pool, in a lake or at the beach, children should always be supervised. Even if there is a lifeguard on duty, it’s crucial to keep an eye on your kids and know where they are at all times. If you have to step away, even for a second, instruct kids to get out of the water or designate a responsible adult to supervise them until you return.

Never swim alone: Even for experienced swimmers, it’s recommended that you never swim alone. In the event of an emergency such as exhausted muscles or accidental injury, having someone else with you who can help you or call for help if needed may help save your life.

Avoid alcohol: Alcohol can impair your ability to swim properly and can also inhibit your response time in the event that something happens to someone you’re supervising. Avoiding alcohol will help reduce impaired judgment and balance and keep your mind alert for any potential issues.

Swimming Pool Safety

Install proper barriers: All pools should be protected with a four-foot or taller fence that has a self-closing and latching gate. Safety alarms that will alert you if someone or something falls through the surface of the water should also be considered if your home opens directly to a pool area. You can also consider using a pool cover when your pool is not in use as an added layer of protection.

Empty portable pools if not in use: Children can drown in as little as two inches of water. If you have a portable or inflatable pool to cool off on hot, humid days, be sure to drain the water when not in use and when there is no supervision.

Keep kid’s toys out of the pool when not in use: Toys can often draw children into the pool, even if they’re simply trying to reach them. Store them out of sight when you are not actively using your pool to help avoid any temptation.

Have lifesaving equipment handy: Life jackets, life-rings and poles can all be used to help reach anyone who might be struggling to swim. From kids to adults, anything can happen, and having these kinds of resources in close reach can help prevent a tragedy.

Follow pool rules: The rules at public pools are implemented for a reason. Follow common rules such as no running, no diving and no horseplay to help avoid an accident. Also, consider implementing pool rules at your own home for your children, such as never swimming alone.

River, Lake and Ocean Safety

Swim in view of lifeguards: According to The United States Lifesaving Association, a person’s chance of drowning at a beach protected by trained lifeguards is less than 1 in 18 million per year. If a lifeguard can’t see you, then they also can’t save you. Staying within their view can save your life. They will also be able to alert you to any potential hazards in the water that you should avoid.

Check conditions before you go in: Check conditions before you enter the water. Many public beaches, for example, use a flag system to indicate potential hazards. If these indicate that water conditions are unsafe, heed these warnings and stay out of the water. You can also check with the lifeguard on duty to ensure conditions are safe for swimming.

Only swim in designated areas: Bodies of water are often marked by ropes or buoys to help keep swimmers within safe areas. Oftentimes, these dividers keep swimmers away from areas with rocks, strong currents, weeds and other hazards that may be difficult to see from the shore.

Know your limits: Open water swimming can be much more taxing on the body than swimming in a pool. The water is colder, currents are stronger and conditions can change quickly. Even the strongest swimmers can tire quicker, so it’s important to know your limits.

Having knowledge of safe swimming habits is key when it comes to water safety. Being prepared and educating your children early on about swimming safety will help keep them safe and keep your mind at ease.

We hope these tips help keep you safe all summer long. To learn more about our coverage options or to find an agent near you, please visit our website.