Water Safety Reminders from Cook County Health

Kate Hedlin, Cook County Health
Updated 7/2/2019 7:53 AM

With the official start of summer last week and warmer weather ahead, families will soon start heading to the beach or the pool.

However, it's easy for a fun day on the water to turn tragic, which is why Cook County Health wants to remind readers about some important water safety tips.


* For parents or adults supervising children:

Always provide constant attention to children when they are in or near water. Do not assume a lifeguard is watching your child.

Stay within arm's reach of young children and inexperienced swimmers.

Insist everyone wear a life jacket when playing in open water, are on a boat or raft, or are playing near water (for young children). Life jackets should be U.S. Coast Guard approved.

Arm "floaties" and other flotation devices are not a substitute for a life jacket.

Someone who is supervising should be CPR certified.

* Every person in the water should have some basic swim skills, including how to float and how to tread water for at least 10 minutes.

* Obey all safety signs and warning flags at the beach and follow instructions given by lifeguards. Before getting in, know the weather and water conditions.

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While the majority of drowning accidents happen in water, a small percentage can happen after someone leaves the water.

* Occasionally when a child gets some water in their lungs, this can lead to a "secondary" drowning, which can happen even hours after being out of the water. Secondary drowning occurs when water in the lungs leads to inflammation of the lungs and then difficulty breathing.

* Another instance is known as "dry" drowning. In this case, water never reaches the lungs because of a spasm of the vocal cords. The vocal cords do not reopen, shutting off the airways and making it hard to breathe.

Both of these instances are extremely rare, but are something to be aware of. Symptoms include fast breathing, coughing, a change in color (pale or blue lips/mouth), appearing short of breath and grunting noises.

Awareness is key to preventing tragedy in water. Cook County Health wishes you a safe and happy summer.

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