Memorial Day marks the beginning of backyard pool parties, boating and fishing activities, and it’s a good time for families to review water safety rules, says Valley Children’s Hospital.
Water safety is especially important this year, because lakes are full and rivers are rushing, which increases the risks for water accidents and drownings, said Mary Jo Quintero, coordinator for the Kohl’s Water Safety Program at Valley Children’s.
“Our biggest concern is we’re going to be seeing more drownings in the larger bodies of water because people just aren’t used to seeing this amount of water,” Quintero said.
The amount of water that is in the lakes right now is four to 10 times as much as last year.
Mary Jo Quintero
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And every year, drownings in swimming pools and bathtubs occur, she said.
So far in 2016, there have been 10 water-related injuries of children under age 18 in the central San Joaquin Valley, Quintero said. Four children were in swimming pools, three in bathtubs, three in lakes or ponds. An 8-year-old Porterville boy, who drowned in a canal, has been the only water-related fatality.
On Friday, Quintero and about 300 volunteers will be teaching the ABCs of water safety to about 2,000 first- and second-grade students and adults at Chukchansi Park in downtown Fresno. This is the 11th year Valley Children’s and Kohl’s are sponsoring the free safety event.
Water safety ABCS:
▪ Adult supervision. Any child under age 5 needs to be supervised, and the adult should be no more than an arm’s length from the child in the water. “If your child is in the swimming pool, then you have to be in the swimming pool with them,” Quintero said.
Inflatable “floaties” on a child’s arms are not substitutes for a life vest, she said.
▪ Barriers: A four-sided, isolated fence with a self-closing and self-latching gate is recommended.
▪ Classes, clear communication and CPR: Swimming lessons are great for children, because those who know how to swim do better in water and are safer, Quintero said.
But when children are in a pool, adults should clearly communicate who is supervising the children, she said. “If I am the one watching the kids and I’m going into the house to get hot dogs, I am going to hand off the supervision to another adult.”
The importance of knowing CPR cannot be over-emphasized, Quintero said. It’s critical to start CPR at the same time as 911 is called, she said.
And this Memorial Day, Quintero said, full lakes and rivers make following water-safety rules essential. “The amount of water that is in the lakes right now is four to 10 times as much as last year.”
Sun safety tips
The sun can damage skin in as few as 15 minutes.
Shade: Seek shade under an umbrella, tree or other shelter before you need relief from the sun. It’s best to protect skin with sunscreen or protective clothing when outside.
Clothing: When possible, long-sleeved shirts and long pants and skirts can provide protection. If wearing this type of clothing isn’t practical, try to wear a T-shirt or a beach cover-up. Keep in mind that a typical T-shirt has an SPF rating lower than 15, so use other types of protection as well.
Hat: Wear a hat with a brim all the way around that shades the face, ears and the back of the neck. Avoid straw hats with holes that let sunlight through. If wearing a baseball cap, protect ears and the back of the neck by wearing clothing that covers those areas or use sunscreen with at least SPF 15, or stay in the shade.
Sunglasses: Protect eyes from UV rays and reduce the risk of cataracts. They also protect the tender skin around your eyes from sun exposure. Wrap-around sunglasses work best because they block UV rays from sneaking in from the side.
Sunscreen: Put on broad spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 15 before you go outside, even on slightly cloudy or cool days. Don’t forget to put a thick layer on all parts of exposed skin. Get help for hard-to-reach places like your back. And remember, sunscreen works best when combined with other options to prevent UV damage. Sunscreen wears off. Put it on again if you stay out in the sun for more than two hours and after swimming, sweating or toweling off. Check the sunscreen’s expiration date.
Cosmetics: Some makeup and lip balms contain some of the same chemicals used in sunscreens. If they do not have at least SPF 15, don’t use them by themselves.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention