BATON ROUGE – As summertime’s sun and heat peak, Louisianians seek cool dips in or near the water – and that means water safety and drowning prevention need to be top of mind. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is sharing tips to help families enjoy swimming and water activities the safe, healthy way.
Drowning is a leading cause of death for Louisiana children, and 2020 was one of the deadliest for babies and children in recent years, according to the Louisiana Department of Health.
“While having fun splashing in or near the pool, the lake or the beach, stay alert – it takes only a moment for a drowning to occur,” said Dr. Tracy Lemelle, a pediatrician who is one of Blue Cross’ medical directors. “Always keep an eye on children, and if a child is missing, check the water first.”
Learn skills to keep your family and loved ones safe and avoid common dangers:
Make sure family members know how to swim, meaning they have the basic water skills that could save their lives. For example: After jumping or getting into water over their head, they should be able to return to the surface and float or tread water for more than a minute.
Use barriers to prevent open access to pools and water, including self-closing and self-latching gates, and four-sided fences.
Anywhere there is water, always have children in your sight. Do not let them wander off alone or swim unsupervised – even if a lifeguard is present.
Take classes – whether online or in person – to learn (or refresh your) CPR and basic water rescue skills.
Know when and how to use U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets, including when boating. Follow all state and local laws for boating and water sports in public waterways.
When swimming in natural waterways, try not to dunk your head or swallow the water. Storm water and runoff can put bacteria, ameba or other organisms in the water that can make you sick.
And, remember that natural water bodies are home to animals, including poisonous snakes and alligators. Be very careful when diving into water, especially if you cannot see into it clearly. And if you do spot a snake or an alligator, don’t go near it or touch it.
“Seconds count in preventing death and serious injuries,” Dr. Lemelle said. “Know how to respond safely to water emergencies, including how to provide CPR. If something happens, call 911 and get medical attention immediately.”
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