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As the dog days of summer inch closer, it's more enticing than ever to cool off by taking a dip in the water. But before you cannonball in that pool, you need to take the necessary precautions to ensure that everyone involved is safe. It's all fun and games until someone gets hurt, or worse. According to the CDC, accidental drowning leads to an estimated 3,960 fatalities annually in the United States. It can happen to anyone—actor Mary Mara was discovered to have died of drowning just last month.
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“Very few people in the U.S. are strong swimmers,” says Dave Benjamin, the PR Executive Director of Great Lakes Surf and Rescue, a non-profit dedicated to water safety education. He attributes most drownings to overconfidence. “Even if you know how to run, you can’t necessarily run a marathon.”
Knowing your limits, recognizing when someone’s drowning and being prepared before swimming are all vital to make sure you and your loved ones remain safe in the water.
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Make sure that swimwear is visible
When it comes to safety and danger, the difference oftentimes comes down to visibility. Depending on where you’re swimming, it can be difficult to make out what’s beneath the surface of the water. Because of this, it’s important to take the visibility of a swimsuit into consideration. According to tests conducted by Alive Solutions, vibrant colors such as yellow and neon green are the most ideal for swimwear. The most noticeable color you can choose is orange. On the other hand, the color white becomes virtually invisible and darker colors are easy to mistake for leaves or algae. If you’re looking at your closet or that of someone in your family and thinking that your swimsuit options are not optimal for safety, we’ve got you covered. We’ve rounded up the best places to buy bathing suits online and there are plenty of bright options to level up your safety.
Be proactive with a life jacket
A life jacket is another safety essential to always have with you whether you're heading to the beach or cruising around on a boat. BoatUS notes that 90% of drowning victims in boating accidents were not wearing a life jacket.
“A life vest is going to keep you on the surface of the water, with some even keeping your head above water at all times,” remarks Benjamin. While there are several different kinds of life jackets to choose from, the main function of all of them is to keep the wearer afloat. They can also provide some thermal protection to mitigate the effects of hypothermia. Type I life jackets are bulky and will turn most unconscious persons’ heads right side up in the water. They’re ideal for rough seas. Type II life jackets are also bulky, but will only turn some unconscious persons’ heads right side up and are intended for calmer waters. A Type III life jacket is much less bulky but requires its wearer to be conscious in order to float their head. It’s important to choose a life jacket that can support the weight of the wearer to ensure maximum safety.
Additionally, it’s worth noting that many states require persons of certain ages to have or wear a life jacket when traveling by boat. Know your specific state’s life jacket requirements and know your own swimming limitations.
Bass Pro Shops Universal Life Jacket is a Type III jacket and features several buckles for a more secure feel and is noted for how comfortable it is. It offers One-Size-Fits-Most, comfortably fitting chest sizes of 30-52". The X20 Type II Life Jacket from Walmart fits the same range of sizes and comes in a striking orange color that can be easily spotted in the water. Walmart also offers a Type II life jacket in child size with an adjustable tie for a more snug fit. All of these jackets are approved by the United States Coast Guard.
For those with a disability that impairs their movement, they can still enjoy the water with brands such as Theraquatics and Life Jacket-Adapted Inc.
When all else fails, have a throwable device at the ready
The saying goes that "the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry." While it's best to plan ahead when dealing with water safety, there are times when you have to act fast and can't get someone in a life vest. For moments like these, your best bet is to throw them a Type IV floatation device lifesaver ring. Type IV is part of the same specifications as the aforementioned swim vests, with Type IV being a buoyant free-floating item that users can hold onto to stay above water.
While expensive, it's hard to put a price on security and if there's one thing the Type IV Ring Buoy is, it's secure. Made to be thrown, large enough to fit most people inside of it and soft enough to hold for extended periods of time, this Coast Guard-approved buoy will help in a pinch. You can combine it with a sturdy line to throw for someone to grab onto and pull them safely ashore. The throw line from North Water comes in bright red for better visibility underwater.
To help a distressed swimmer in the pool, you can use a pool hook. Like a throw line, a pool hook is a device that struggling swimmers can grab onto that will allow someone out of the water to pull them to safety. Of course, all these plans only work if another person is present which is why you should never swim alone. What’s more, you should never leave a child unattended around the pool.
Have fun while you float
While water safety is serious business, it doesn't have to be all doom and gloom. You can float in a pool while having fun and showing off a bit of style. The Jurmikey swim vest is a hit with young children thanks to its bright, colorful designs. It's big enough to be comfortable for some children even as they grow larger. Older kids can have fun with a fierce dragon from GoFloats. Don't tell the fire-breathing lizard that he's surrounded by water, it'll ruin all the fun.
Kids aren't the only ones who get to have fun in the water since many brands offer larger pool inflatables. Customers love Find2Will's inflatables for their designs and durability.
Restrict pool access to prevent accidents
One of the best ways to prevent pool accidents is by restricting access to the pool in the first place. You might consider installing a fence around your pool, making it difficult to get to. This can deter humans and animals alike. WaterWarden’s safety fence comes pre-assembled and setting it up is as easy as putting the included poles into already-drilled holes. To take it a step further, you should make sure your pool drain has a secure cover, as it helps keep hair from getting sucked into the drain. Lastly, consider installing a battery-operated pool alarm, which will alert you when someone enters the pool unexpectedly. The Poolguard alarm works for pools 800 square feet or less and emits a loud horn when motion is detected.
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This article originally appeared on Reviewed: Water safety products, equipment to use while swimming this summer