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5 critical water safety skills, other ways you can save lives at the pool

Posted at 5:00 AM, Jun 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-18 10:19:56-04

Taking a dip in the cool water is one of the few ways to beat the summer heat, but are you doing it safely? Everyone can play an important role in saving lives around water.

The Red Cross says 85% of Americans say they can swim, but a survey found that just over half of self-described swimmers are actually able to complete five critical water safety skills that could keep you alive.

Those five skills include getting in water deeper than your head, being able to tread water or float for one minute, and then getting to an exit safely.

Drownings by the numbers

In the first six months of 2021, there have been at least two dozen drowning or near-drowning incidents in the Phoenix area.

Of those incidents, 19 of them have involved children and several have been deadly.

Five adults have also lost their lives in the water so far this year. According to the Drowning Prevention Coalition of Arizona, more adults drown every year than children in our state.

Phoenix Fire Department says drowning incidents occur more often in the West Valley where backyard pools are more prevalent, and there are more renters, visitors, and multi-generational households.

RELATED: Is your backyard pool safe?

If you see someone in distress in the water, be sure to:

  1. Yell for help and pull the person from the water
  2. Call 911 and stay on the line
  3. Begin CPR. If you are not trained, a dispatcher can walk you through the steps
Addressing the drowning crisis in the Valley

Other water safety tips

  • Floaties and pool toys can be great for lounging and fun, but they should never be relied on as life-saving devices.
  • Life jackets are the number one thing you can have to keep your children -- and everyone else, for that matter -- safe.
  • There should always be a designated "Water Watcher" -- someone who is dedicated to focusing on the water during swim time, making sure everyone is safe.
  • Fire officials say there should be multiple lines of defense to keep kids safe, including at home where there may be a backyard pool. Always secure doors to the outside and consider having a self-closing door. Officials say a pool fence is critical but should be considered the last line of defense if all other safety measures fail.
  • If you are swimming in a lake or river, know cold water and currents can make moving to safety more difficult.
  • You may have been told that you should wait 30 minutes after eating to swim. But is that true? Experts say that's not the case. While it's possible you could experience cramping after eating too close to diving in, it's safer to have a small snack like a sandwich or protein bar to keep your blood sugar stable and prevent dizzy spells.