Each year, nearly 7,000 Americans are sent to the emergency room due to drowning or other swimming-related injuries. Not only are pool injuries increasing, but fatalities are as well. For this reason, it’s crucial that all swimmers, especially parents, identify these top 10 causes of swimming injures and how to prevent them.
It should come as no surprise that not knowing how to swim increases the risk of drowning, especially among small children. Yet even adults who don’t know how to swim may feel pressured to get into the water and risk their safety.
Attending swimming lessons reduces the risk of drowning by 80%. Whether you’re a parent teaching their child or an adult who never learned, attending swimming lessons just might save your life.
All pools, both public and private, should have fencing around them and a locked gate to prevent young children and others from getting into the water unsupervised. By restricting access to the pool, you reduce the risk of children or even pets falling in and drowning.
Free access is one of the biggest predictors of swimming injuries. On average, 70% of children who experienced a drowning event were not wearing swimsuits and were not expected to be near the water.
Lack of Supervision
Whether swimming at home or at the public pool, you should have at least one non-swimmer supervising. A drowning event can strike at any time and even strong swimmers who have exhausted themselves are susceptible. Once drowning, a swimmer cannot save themselves; all of their energy is devoted to keeping their head above the water.
A lifeguard or other supervising person can identify when someone is in trouble and can either jump in to save them or throw them a safety device.
Drinking and Diving
Swimming while intoxicated significantly increases the risk of drowning. Not only is it disorienting, but as we discussed previously, it causes your muscles to contract, making it more difficult to stay afloat.
Just how bad is it? According to the CDC, alcohol consumption contributes to about 70% of adult drowning fatalities and 25% of drowning-related emergency room visits.
At some point, you’ve probably seen pool signs that say “no diving.” These aren’t just for show. Diving in shallow water is fundamentally dangerous because it effectively means propelling yourself, headfirst, toward a concrete surface. Remember that you should never dive in a pool that’s less than 9ft deep.
Keep in mind that it only takes one bad dive to change your life forever. Shallow diving injuries often cause spinal injuries, which can lead to long-term complications, including various degrees of paralysis.
As we discussed previously, pool games are dangerous. While the risks of breath-holding games and chicken should be obvious, the fact is that most pool games present an unnecessary risk. Even Marco Polo puts players in danger of blindly hitting their head against the side of the pool or running around the outside.
While it may seem like childish fun, parents should take an active role in warning children about the dangers before they get in the pool. Just as important is actively discouraging dangerous behavior while supervising.
Next time you’re at the beach, keep a close watch for a “part” in the water flanked by foam. This is a rip current, and it’s the #1 cause of lifeguard intervention at the beach.
If you ever find yourself unexpectedly caught in a riptide, it’s crucial that you know how to swim out of it. Our guide explains more about what swimmers can do to improve their chances of safely escaping.
It’s always a good idea to check the temperature before getting in the water and then gradually ease yourself in. Jumping in all at once can cause two things to happen.
If the water is below room temperature (65-75 degrees Fahrenheit), you may gasp for breath or experience rapid breathing that can make it difficult to stay afloat.
In very low temperatures (below 60 degrees Fahrenheit), suddenly submerging yourself in cold water can cause a cold shock similar to being in near-freezing water.
Simply put, if it’s too cold to be outside without a jacket, you probably shouldn’t get into the water.
Slip and Fall
Pools are a hotbed of slip and fall accidents. That’s because the area around a pool is constantly wet from splashing. While walking around the pool, keep a close watch for puddles.
If you’re often around water or if you work around pools, you may also want to get a pair of slip-resistant shoes.
No Emergency Training
When a swimming accident happens, response time is key. Whether someone will experience the long-term effects of drowning or cough up some water may depend on how fast others react, how soon they’re able to get the drowning person out of the water, and whether they’re prepared to provide first aid and CPR.
Even if you’re not a trained lifeguard, knowing how to act in a swimming emergency could be the difference between a trip to the hospital and a potentially fatal accident.
If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries while swimming, we are here for you. If you’d like to schedule a free case consultation with an experienced Atlanta personal injury attorney from Goldstein Hayes & Lina, LLC, please don’t hesitate to call (888) 425-6070 or send us an email.