Northern Nevada offers a host of outdoor opportunities, many of which involve water — ironic in the desert right? As we gear up for the season, it is very important to remember safety is the responsibility of everyone who takes part in swimming activities. Often we direct our concern toward our younger or newer swimmers, but it is essential to recognize that drowning can happen to anyone, and it happens very quickly.
Many different drowning prevention organizations address the ABCDs of water safety, so I would like to offer you a snack-size version of these tips.
“A” is for adult. Adults need to supervise all swimming situations, and designated watchers need to be in place at all backyard pool parties, beach get-togethers or even when attending public pools. That moment when you check your text message can make the difference in a safe child or one who has ventured beyond their depth.
“B” is for barriers and buddies. This is a quick reminder for owners of backyard pools that fences and power-operated pool covers save lives. On the buddies issue, sure, it sounds like the kindergarten field trip, but this really is an important tip — even for you veteran swimmers who like to swim to the buoy at Sand Harbor. Always swim with a buddy.
“C” is for classes. Yes, of course, we want all swimmers to experience swim lessons and exhibit a greater degree of control in the water, but we are also addressing the importance of taking CPR and rescue techniques classes. Remember, being a skilled swimmer does not make a person drown proof; it increases their chance of survival.
“D” is for devices. Keeping your phone handy by the pool is a good idea in case of emergency. This facet of safety also includes keeping Coast Guard-approved flotation devices on hand for non-swimmers or small children and maintaining proper rescue tools such as hooks or life rings by your backyard pool at all times. Point of clarification: Water wings, inner tubes and other inflatables are not authorized flotation devices.
The statistics are disturbing. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “There are an average of 3,536 fatal unintentional drownings (non-boating related) annually in the United States — about ten deaths per day.” Be aware that drowning usually does not create the commotion seen in films; it is silent, without splashing and quicker than one might imagine. With so many water activities to enjoy, make safety a part of your family’s plan for the summer. See you at the pool!
Holly Sprague is the owner of Bridgewater Swim Academy located in Reno. She is the mother of three adult children and a former University of Oregon, Division-1, Pac-12 swimming competitor. She loves the outdoor lifestyle prevalent throughout Northern Nevada and continues to be active in the local running and swimming communities.