• Archived Posts

  • Get Involved

    Red Cross University
    Take a Social Basics class to learn how to be a digital advocate, or join our disaster digital volunteer team!




    We use TeamLab Online Office

Before You Take A Dip, Here’s some safety tips

 By Peter Wernicki, MD
American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council

Screenshot 2014-03-19 07.52.11

As an orthopedic surgeon, I see plenty of people who injure themselves in and around water on their vacations. There are the typical slips and falls around pools and the joint and muscle tears from water injuries. I know that when good times aren’t safe times, it can take all the fun out of a poolside getaway.  So here are a few tips to make sure Spring break doesn’t include a trip to the emergency room:

  1. Don’t drink and dive. I know day drinking at the pool or beach drink is tempting. But nearly 70% of water-related deaths among teens and adults involve alcohol, especially diving injuries. Save the toasts until after the pool, beach or water park.  Remember: alcohol affects your judgment and coordination. High temperatures and a hot sun up the ante. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated and remember the sunscreen too – skin cancer is a real killer.

  2. Buddy Up. Even at supervised pools and parks, go with a friend and keep an eye on each other. If you have kids make sure they are using the buddy system in the water – and if they are not good swimmers, make sure you have “arms’ reach” supervision.  If possible, always swim where a lifeguard is present.

  3. Enroll Before You Go. Take a Red Cross First Aid/CPR/AED class now and be ready for fun as well as the unexpected. Make sure kids and adults know how to swim.

  4. Pack tools not toys. Most people mistakenly believe that items like foam pool noodles, water wings and inflatable rings make children safer in the water. But the reality is that air and foam-filled flotation toys are no substitute for life jackets or other water safety devices; don’t expect them to be a lifesaving device. Make sure that Coast Guard-approved life vests are available and worn, especially on boats and jet skis.

  5. Steer clear of breath-holding games. This goes for hyper-ventilation (fast shallow breathing) games while swimming too. It doesn’t take much to go black and go under.

  6. If the Thunder Roars, Get Indoors. If you’re at an outdoor pool, keep an eye on the weather and head to dry shelter before lightning strikes.

Leave a Reply

We encourage you to comment on this blog. All viewpoints are welcome, but please be constructive. We reserve the right to make editorial decisions regarding submitted comments, including but not limited to removal of comments. The comments are moderated, so you may have to be a tiny bit patient in waiting to see them. We will review and post them as promptly as possible during regular business hours (Monday through Friday, 8:30 - 5:30).