Summer is just around the corner, and we hope the summer of 2021 will be remembered as a time when life finally went mostly back to normal. Unfortunately, for some families, it may end in tragedy. Drowning is the leading cause of preventable death among children under 5, and it remains a serious risk for older children as well. Both children and adults need to put safety first when having fun on the water.
General water safety
First, learn to swim! Children should be enrolled in swimming lessons if possible, and adults who will be supervising them at the pool, on the boat, or at the beach need to learn to swim themselves. Additionally, at least one adult needs to learn first aid and CPR; children over 13 can learn CPR as well.
Stay within your fitness and swimming capabilities, and always swim with a buddy.
Most importantly, a group of children swimming needs to have an adult assigned to the exclusive task of supervising them — too many tragedies happen when several adults all assume someone else is watching the kids. Even at a pool or beach with a lifeguard on duty, parents or adult caregivers should remain at the pool and watch or swim with their kids. Young children should be within arm's length of a responsible adult at all times.
Swimming pool safety tips
Both residential and public swimming pools need to be properly secured to stop children from falling into the pool or otherwise getting hurt. A pool should be secured with a fence at least 4 feet high, and the door or gate needs to stay locked when the pool is not in use. Hot tubs and spas likewise need to be secured with a childproof, locked safety cover.
Before getting in the pool, swimmers should remove any loose jewelry, accessories, or clothing that could get caught in a drain or pool equipment. Children who are under the age of 12 or are not strong swimmers should wear life jackets.
Don't dive into water that's any shallower than 10 feet — which, in many pools, means no diving, period.
Beach Safety Tips
Always check the depth of the water before swimming in a lake, a pond, or the ocean. Follow all appropriate signs and warnings, and be cautious around boaters and anyone else using the water.
Avoid going swimming at the beach on windy days, as the wind can create undertows and choppy waters that can be dangerous for swimmers. Stay away from areas with moving water or rip currents.
Boat Safety Tips
As with driving, before you get on the water, you need to know the rules of the road. Take a boat safety course to learn the applicable state laws and regulations, required equipment, and other key safety information. It's also important to make sure the boat itself is safe; get a vessel safety check and use a pre-departure checklist to make sure you have all the safety equipment you need on-board.
Wear a life jacket! In Delaware, life jackets are required for children 12 and under, as well as anyone using a personal watercraft (e.g., a jetski) or being towed behind a boat (e.g., water skiing). Even if you aren't legally required to wear a life jacket, though, it's still a good idea, especially for passengers 16 and under.
Any boat should have a designated primary operator and a second person who is fully familiar with the boat's operations just in case. Both the skipper and the assistant skipper need to stay sober — operating a boat under the influence of alcohol is illegal in Delaware, and nearly half of boating accidents involve alcohol.
If you've been hurt, we'll stand up for you
Whether in a swimming pool, at the beach, or on a boat, too many water-related accidents are the preventable result of negligence. If you or your child has been hurt, you need a personal injury attorney who knows Delaware law to advocate for the full compensation you need and deserve. Schedule your free consultation with the Law Office of Edward C. Gill, P.A., serving clients in Georgetown and throughout the State of Delaware.