Summertime - a carefree, kick-off-your-shoes, relaxed time of year. One group will differ with this belief, and that's the emergency room personnel who will tell you that summer represents trauma season.
More accidental injuries happen during the summer months than any other season. Children, out of school, become the victims for most of these unintentional injuries and mishaps. Sadly, they are over-represented by the death statistics, too.During the summer, children have all day to "get into trouble." During the rest of the year, supervision at school protects them from harmful injury.
The Mountain West has recently seen a rash of drownings, which occur most often in the summer months. The American Red Cross recently promoted this water safety checklist:
1. Learn to swim well enough to survive an emergency.
2. Never swim alone and swim only with a buddy who has the ability to help when necessary.
3. Follow the rules set up for the particular pool, beach or water-front where you are swimming.
4. Dry off after bathing.
5. Watch your step.
6. Be considerate of others.
7. Know your limitations and do not overestimate your ability.
8. Stay out of the water when overheated or overtired.
9. Stay out of the water during electrical storms.
10. Do not dive into unfamiliar waters or waters of unknown depths.
11. Do not substitute inner tubes or air mattresses for swimming ability.
12. Do not swim under a diving board.
13. Remember, too much sun will spoil your fun.
14. Call for help only when you need it.
Learning to swim is essential for survival in the water. Almost 90 percent of all drownings occur only 10 yards from safety. Parents are often unsure of how old a child must be before he or she can learn to swim.
The Council for National Cooperation in Aquatics has issued a statement that the minimum age for organized swimming instruction be set at 3, noting that it is imperative that parents realize that even though preschoolers can learn to swim, no young child, particularly the preschooler, can ever be considered "water safe" and must be carefully supervised when in or around water. The CNCA is a group that includes the American Red Cross, the National Safety Council, the National Recreation and Parks Association and others.
Parents can encourage younger children to feel comfortable around water, beginning with carefully supervised bathtub play. Most realize that learning to swim is a long, continuing process.
(SB) Alton Thygerson is a professor of health sciences at Brigham Young University.