Swim safely

Swimming, whether it is in a pool, lake or the sea, can be enormously fun but also extremely dangerous when precautions are not taken. Drowning is the second most common cause of death among children under 14 years old and it can happen fast - sometimes in less than two minutes after a person's head goes under water.

It is therefore wise to keep the following in mind before getting in the water:

  • Everyone should learn to swim - you never know when you will need to save yourself or someone else in the water
  • Never leave a child unsupervised at a pool or the beach
  • Enforce rules of conduct while at the pool, including: no running or messing around on the deck, etc
  • Diving should only occur from the diving board - the water may be more shallow than it appears from the surface
  • Young/weak swimmers should wear a floatation device, like a life jacket or water wings, while in and around the pool – and should remain in the shallow end
  • Open waters are not always clear - many have jagged rocks, broken bottles and rubbish at the bottom, which is why it's a good idea to wear water shoes
  • Also, watch out for weeds and grass, which can trap even a good swimmer
  • Strong undertows, ocean currents or rip currents can make a day at the sea very dangerous: rip currents, in particular, can carry swimmers away from shore in a matter of seconds. If you find yourself caught in a current, swim parallel/alongside the shore until the water stops pulling you
  • The sea is a wonderful place to swim with sea creatures, however, some fish are not too pleased when happy swimmers accidentally invade their space. In particular, jellyfish and Portuguese man-of-wars can often be found floating near the shore and a sting from these umbrella-shaped, nearly clear creatures can hurt and blister the skin. This is another good reason to wear water shoes.
  • As with swimming in a pool - obey the rules when swimming in the sea:
    • If a location is not open to swimmers, do not swim there
    • Ensure there is a lifeguard present
    • Don't swim too close to piers
    • Face the wave - so you know what is coming
    • Never fake a drowning
    • Make sure you can always see the people on shore

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