American Red Cross Water Safety Q&A - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports


American Red Cross Water Safety Q&A

From the American Red Cross:

Friday, July 13, 2007 - Most water tragedies are preventable so whether at home or at the beach, lake or at a neighbor pool, having the right equipment on hand is key.

Dan Kurtz, American Red Cross Healthy and Safety Director, explains that proper safety equipment helps to ensure everyone stays safe:

1. Question:  Many parents use inflatable water wings or little tubes with blow-up vests as floatation devices for their children when in the water.  Is there a false sense of security that these items are safe?

Answer:  Absolutely!  Water wings and inflatable toys are great fun but they are just that, toys.  These items may provide a false sense of security and should not be relied upon for safety.  It's vital that parents and caregivers know the difference between toys and proper safety gear.  Kids -and adults - who are not strong swimmers or who appear to rely on inflatable toys for safety should wear US Coast Guard approved personal flotation devices (PFDs) whenever they are in or around the water.  Parents will know it is US Coast Guard approved because it'll be clearly marked on the vest. Each person should have the appropriate PFD for his or her weight, which is found clearly marked in the Coast Guard stamp

Used properly, these plastic vests will help save lives!   

2. Question:  Once a child is properly geared up, is it okay to leave them unsupervised for short periods while in or near the water?

Answer:  No.  It only takes a second for an emergency, such as a near drowning or injury, to occur.  No matter what a child is wearing and no matter what flotation items are at hand, he or she should never be left unattended in or around the water.  Parents should always practice "reach supervision" which means that he or she is within arm's length of the child at all times. 


3. Question:  How about families with home pools, what type of safety measures are needed?

Answer: At the Red Cross our first "rule of the pool" is to learn to swim and learn to swim well!  It is one of the best gifts you can give to a child.  A few safety measures that must be enforced in every household are:

  • Never, ever leave anyone swim alone. Even as an adult, you shouldn't swim by yourself. No one, no matter how experienced, is "drown-proof." We say this because at anytime someone can have a medical or health emergency while in the water and may need assistance.
  • Learn Red Cross first aid and CPR. While the above tips can help prevent emergencies, it is important to know what to do if a situation arises. The Red Cross recommends that at least one person in every household know these lifesaving skills. This includes any caregivers-for instance babysitters or grandparents.

The proper equipment is key to have on hand in case an emergency occurs:

  • The pool should have a gate that completely surrounds all sides with a self-closing, self-latching gate. It should be off limits unless identified as "pool time" and again an adult is present.
  • Keep a cordless phone poolside; it's not only a quick way to dial 911, but you won't have to leave kids unattended to run in the house and answer a call. Include a phone list with emergency contact information.
  • A first aid kit contains plastic face shields, which can help prevent disease transmission, says ARC Health & Safety Director, Dan Kurtz. "These items coupled with a pool emergency action plan are a good idea." Other lifesaving equipment includes a ring buoy with a line attached and a reaching pole. With this equipment, you can help someone person in trouble without going into the water yourself. Plastic ring buoys are easy to maneuver so that even a child can use one if the need arises to help save a life," says Kurtz.

Having a plan and the right equipment like the phone and the plastic breathing barrier helps everyone breather easier

For more information on staying safe in and around the water visit or contact the Savannah Chapter at (912) 651-5371.

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