Warmer weather will soon be coming to Santa Clarita following the arrival of summer, and the American Red Cross is offering a few tips to Santa Clarita Valley residents in an effort to keep them safe while out at beaches, pools and waterparks.
“It’s important to be water smart, which includes having swimming skills and knowing how to help others,” Guillermo Sanchez, a preparedness and resiliency manager at the American Red Cross, said in a news release.
“The first step should be to make sure everyone is ‘water competent’ – meaning that they are able to enter the water, get a breath, stay afloat, find an exit, swim a distance and then get out of the water safely,” Sanchez said, adding there are many other safety suggestions to consider depending on the place and situation.
SCV residents with pools should always secure the perimeter with appropriate barriers and prevent unsupervised access to water, according to the news release. “Many children who drown in home pools were out of sight for less than five minutes and in the care of one or both parents at the time.”
This is one reason why Sanchez and Red Cross officials suggested parents have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear properly fitted U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, “but do not rely on life jackets alone.”
Parents should always actively supervise children and stay within arm’s reach of young children and new swimmers, officials said. It could be also helpful to designate a “Water Watcher” to keep a close eye and constant attention on weaker swimmers.
“If you plan to swim in the ocean, a lake or river, be aware that swimming in these environments is different than swimming in a pool,” Sanchez said.
Only swim at the beach if you have the necessary skills and if there is a lifeguard within the designated swimming area. Also be sure to obey all instructions and orders given by the lifeguards on duty and ask them about local conditions if you are unfamiliar with the ocean current.
“Make sure you swim sober and that you always swim with a buddy,” Sanchez said, adding that it’s key to know your limitations and make sure you always have enough energy to swim back to shore.
It’s also important to walk carefully into open waters and watch out for aquatic life, according to the news release. If you are caught in a rip current, do not panic. Instead, signal to others that you need assistance and attempt to swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current.
“Once you are free, swim toward the shore,” Sanchez said. “If you can’t swim to the shore, float or tread water until you are free of the rip current and then head toward the shore.”
Finally, teach children to always ask permission to go near water, officials said. If a child is missing, check the water first, and remember, seconds count in preventing death or disability.