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Dive into summer with confidence: A guide to staying safe in and around water in Colorado

Jun 17, 2024, 9:44 AM | Updated: 11:34 am

Colorado is not just a winter outdoor paradise. Summer brings many fun family activities, but also brings with it some dangers to be aware of, as we’ve already had twelve drownings in Colorado lakes and rivers in 2024. Now that the summer heat is in full effect, more of us will take to the pools, lakes and rivers. We researched the CDC guidelines on drowning prevention and can’t stress enough the importance of safety around water.

It’s important to ensure children are safe in and around water so everyone can have fun during summer water activities. Drowning is the top cause of death for kids aged 1 to 4, and the second leading cause of accidental injury death for kids aged 5 to 14. Drowning can occur quickly and quietly, catching people off guard. It’s a risk whenever there’s water nearby, whether it’s a pool, lake, bathtub, or even a bucket filled with water.

Dive into summer with confidence: A guide to staying safe in and around water in Colorado

(Getty Images)

Taking formal swimming lessons can significantly decrease the chances of drowning. However, it’s important to remember that even children who have received swimming lessons still require close and constant supervision when they are in or near water. A quick online search will give you many places that offer swim lessons in Colorado.

It’s alarming to know that more than half of adults in the United States have never taken swimming lessons. It’s crucial to consider enrolling children in swimming lessons to ensure their safety. Additionally, don’t hesitate to sign up for swim lessons yourself to enhance your swimming skills and feel more comfortable in the water. It’s never too late to learn how to swim, and the advantages of swimming increase as we get older.

Remember, even if children have undergone swimming lessons, they still need to be closely supervised when they are in or around water, even if a lifeguard is present. An adult should always be within arm’s reach of a child who is in or near water. When supervising children, it’s important for responsible adults to avoid engaging in distracting activities such as reading, using their phones, or consuming alcohol or drugs. Drowning can occur quickly and silently.

If you have a swimming pool at home, it’s essential to have a four-sided fence that is at least four feet high, completely enclosing the pool and separating it from the house. The fence should have a gate that self-closes and self-latches. Additionally, make sure to remove any toys that might attract a child from the pool when it is not in use.

It’s important to note that “floaties,” arm bands, or water wings do not provide sufficient protection against drowning and can easily slip off, especially when children jump into the water. These items can give parents and children a false sense of safety. Instead, it is recommended to use a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket, as it offers better protection.

Approximately 40% of drowning deaths among children aged 5-14 occur in natural bodies of water. More than half of fatal and non-fatal drownings among individuals aged 15 and older happen in natural or open waters such as lakes, rivers, or oceans. Wearing properly fitted life jackets can be beneficial for various activities in and around natural water, not just for boating. Whether you are in a boat or in the water, children and adults are best protected by wearing U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets that fit them well and are securely fastened.

Dive into summer with confidence: A guide to staying safe in and around water in Colorado

Credit: Jim Lawson

Lakes and rivers in Colorado have hidden hazards such as dangerous currents or waves, rocks or vegetation, and limited visibility. Check the forecast before activities in, on, or near water. Colorado weather conditions can change quickly and cause dangerous flash floods, strong winds, and thunderstorms with lightning strikes.

Finally, learn CPR. Your CPR skills could save someone’s life in the time it takes for paramedics to arrive. Many organizations such as American Red Cross and American Heart Association offer CPR training courses, both online and in-person.

Enjoy all Colorado has to offer this summer, but please be safe.

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Dive into summer with confidence: A guide to staying safe in and around water in Colorado