Splish, Splash! Safety First! Know how to stay safe in the water.
Splish, Splash! Safety First! Know how to stay safe in the water.

Splish, Splash! Safety First!

Odds are, you and your friends and family will have at least one summer outing at a pool, lake, river or beach. Make sure everyone in your group stays safe by knowing how to protect yourself from potential dangers of water activities.
“Fun in the water is a natural part of summer in Arkansas,” said Dr. Amy Phillips, one of our OB/GYN doctors at UAMS. “Swimming and boating are good opportunities to exercise and enjoy time with family and friends, but it’s important to know how to keep everyone safe. It’s not something we think about a lot, but infections can come from something as simple as a misting spray. And, children can drown in only a couple of minutes.”
To test how much you know about water safety, take this quiz from the American Red Cross.

Germs in Water

Swallowing, breathing in mists or aerosols or having contact with contaminated water in swimming pools, water parks, hot tubs, fountains, rivers, lakes and beaches can cause a variety of recreational water illnesses. The most common complaint is diarrhea. Children, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems can have more severe illnesses from contaminated water. Chlorine does not kill germs instantly, so do not drink pool or lake water. Some germs, including Crypto are very chlorine-tolerant. 

Thunder and Lightening

Lightning strikes and swimming don’t mix. Summer storms can pop up quickly, so designate a responsible person to watch the weather. Listen for thunder, and use radios and weather apps on your phone to watch for approaching storms.
When thunder and lightning are first noticed, count the seconds between seeing the lightning and hearing the thunder (flash-to-bang method) to determine how close the storm is. For each five seconds between the lightning and thunder, lightning is one mile away. For example, if you count 10 seconds, lighting is two miles away. Evacuate the water at a count of 30 or less (when lightning is 5 miles away or closer). Go to a safe shelter nearby.
Stay out of the water for at least 30 minutes after the last thunder is heard. Lighting can strike over wide distances, and a strike to the ground near gas lines, electric wiring and water pipes near a pool can lead to shocks elsewhere.
Teach friends and family this rhyme about storms and water safety, “If you can see it, flee it. If you hear it, clear it.

Swim Safely

Before you take a dip in the pool or take a group to the lake, make sure everyone knows how to swim or has the proper life jacket. Make sure all children are closely supervised. Preschool children should have “touch supervision” where a responsible adult is close enough to reach the child at all times. Remember that drowning can happen quickly and quietly, so stay focused on the swimmers and listen for changes in noise levels. Use wireless speakers for music from your phone rather than headphones. Sudden silence can mean more than cries for help.
Make sure someone else is around when you’re swimming, and swim at locations with a lifeguard whenever possible.
Provide formal swim lessons for young children so they can reach safety if they accidentally fall in water. Private lessons for all ages are available in Little Rock, North Little Rock, Sheridan and Conway from Safety Before Skill.
Remember that inflatable “water wings” or “floaties,” pool noodles and inner tubes are toys, not life-saving devices. Arkansas law requires that children 12 and under must wear a life jacket, which must be securely fastened while on board any vessel. Each vessel must have one personal floatation device for each person on board. Each vest must be US Coast Guard-approved, in good condition and the correct size.

Electric Shock Drowning

Deaths from electric shock drowning are on the rise as more boats and docks are equipped with electric appliances and devices. If not properly installed and maintained, these devices can leak electric current into the water and pose a risk for people in the water. 
Electric shock drowning happens when a swimmer comes into contact with an electrical current. The current causes muscular paralysis, incapacitating the swimmer and causing him or her to drown.
To help prevent electric shock drowning, follow these guidelines:
  • Never swim within 100 yards of any fresh water marina or boatyard.
  • If you have a boat, have it tested to make sure it is not leaking electricity. Or you can buy a clamp meter and test it yourself.
  • Have a qualified electrician do any electric work needed on a dock or on your boat. 
  • Do not use a household extension cords for powering your docked boat.  
  • Don’t go into the water to get to anyone you think has been shocked because you will be at risk of being shocked too. If you believe someone has been shocked, reach, throw or row.
  • Call for help. Use 9-1-1 or VHF Channel 16
  • Try CPR on the person, and don't stop until trained help arrives. 
If you feel "tingly" in the water, you could be at risk for shock.
  • Swim away from the source of the electricity and get out of the water as quickly as possible. Do not touch metal objects such as ladders.
  • Have someone turn off the shore power at the meter base and/or unplug shore power cords. 
  • Tell anyone in the water to move away from the dock.
  • Stop anyone else from entering the water.
When it’s hot and humid in the peak of an Arkansas summer, nothing feels better than jumping into a nice, cool pool or lake. Just be sure you’ve checked for safety first.

Pool Chemicals

Thousands of visits to emergency rooms occur every year because of injuries from pool chemicals. Nearly half of these are in children and teenagers, and more than one third occur at a home. Follow these easy steps to prevent injuries from chemicals at pools you and your family visit:
  • Read and carefully follow directions on product labels
  • Wear appropriate safety equipment when handling pool chemicals
  • Keep pool chemicals away from people and animals
  • Make sure young children are not nearby when handling pool chemicals
  • NEVER mix different pool chemicals with each other, especially chlorine products with acid
  • Pre-dissolve pool chemicals ONLY when directed by product label
  • Add pool chemical to water, NEVER water to pool chemicals
To learn more, please visit the UAMS Health Library
Subscribe to our email list.