Summer vacation usually means hours of free time to spend under the sun swimming and spending time with friends and family. As much fun as it is to splash around and dive into that crisp, cool water, it is extremely important to know what to do, or not to do, when taking a trip to the beach or pool.
Since this is the prime time for beach and pool-goers, the Hawaii Red Cross wants to stress the importance of active adult supervision and making sure that everyone knows how to swim, in order to prevent emergencies from happening. Having basic water safety knowledge and skills ensures that those trips will be safe and fun, and that people will make good choices in and around the water.
For those accompanying young children and newer swimmers, it is important to remember to stay within arm’s reach of your child in the water because drowning can occur quickly and silently. The list below includes tips to help everyone stay safe at the beach and pool this summer:
• Be water smart. Ensure that everyone in the family learns to swim well.
• Use a life jacket. Whether you’re aboard a boat or in a situation beyond your swimming level, remember to bring a life jacket and use it! Inflatable children’s toys and water wings can be fun, but they are not a substitute for a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
• Practice the buddy system. Swim in pairs in a lifeguarded area.
• Be ready for anything. Know what to do to help someone in trouble without putting yourself in danger as well; know how and when to call 9-1-1; and know CPR.
The Red Cross and its Scientific Advisory Council have determined a set of critical water safety skills, which include being able to:
- Step or jump into the water above your head
- Return to the surface and float or tread water for one minute
- Rotate in a full circle and find an exit
- Swim 25 yards to the exit
- Exit from the water (if in a pool, be able to exit without using the ladder)
If you’re planning on taking your family out to the beach or pool when the weather gets hot, we highly suggest that you be able to swim well enough to perform these water competency skills. But if you can’t just yet, the Red Cross, in partnership with the Honolulu City and County, have free swimming lessons available. Those interested in taking a swim lesson can go to the Department of Parks and Recreation Fall Program website to register online or to find out how to register in person.
For more water safety information and tips to keep your young swimmers safe, download our free Red Cross Swim App! It features a variety of kid-friendly games, videos and quizzes, so your children can learn about how they can be water safe too. To download the app, text ‘SWIM’ to 90999, or search “American Red Cross” in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.
Coralie Chun Matayoshi has been the CEO of the American Red Cross, Hawaii State Chapter since 2003. She is an attorney who previously served as Executive Director of the Hawaii State Bar Association for 13 years. She is a graduate of Punahou School and earned a political science degree, magna cum laude, from the University of California, Berkeley, and juris doctor degree from Hastings College of the Law. She formerly served on the University of Hawaii Board of Regents.