We are fortunate to have sun and waves all year long in Florida. That means that a lot of people are in the water all the time. Whether it’s a pool, the lake, or the ocean, safe swimming is important to us - because it’s important to your well-being.
Sadly, a number of people (adults and kids) die every year in swimming-related accidents in Florida. Here are some basic swimming safety tips that you should consider before stepping foot in any kind of water.
Most kids love water. That means that kids spend a large amount of time in the water every year - and that’s great! Swimming is an excellent exercise and gets kids outside. But all too often parents haven’t taught kids the right safety tips when it comes to swimming.
Here’s what your kids need to know:
- Basic swimming courses: it’s a great idea to enroll your kids in swimming classes at a young age. Putting a kid on a life raft or on a boat without knowing how to swim is a risk you just shouldn’t take. Keep in mind that small children can drown in inches of water.
- Employ the buddy system: there’s safety in numbers. Never send your kids to swim without other kids and an adult to supervise. If for some reason, an adult is not watching while kids are swimming, one child can always run and find help if something goes awry.
- Learn CPR: knowing what to do in case of an emergency is smart. Basic CPR courses can save a child’s life. Taking a course is just a matter of a quick sign-up through the Red Cross. Make the time to learn CPR.
- Make sure kids are wearing life jackets: get a lifejacket that fits your child properly and make sure that they are wearing it when near a lake or ocean. If your child can’t swim, do not assume that a life jacket will stand-in for a lack of swimming ability.
Waves mean surfing and surfing is a lot of fun. But before you go, know about some basic guidelines including the following:
- Orange triangular flags: when lifeguards put up orange flags on the beach, that means that you shouldn’t be surfing between those two areas. Why? If your board gets loose or you catch a wave all the way to the shore, your board could potentially fly over a swimmer’s head or knock someone out.
- Wave flags: red flags mean that the surf is dangerous - surf at your own risk. A red flag with a white line through it means no surfing or swimming.
- Orange flags mean that the surf is a slight risk, and purple flags mean that some kind of marine life is in the area - could be a jellyfish, sea snake or other issues.
- Purple flags are not for sharks. In the case of a shark, a red flag will be put up.
- Yellow with a circle: this means that no non-powered craft can be in the water (including surfboards or SUP boards). The reason might be that the area is reserved for motorboats.
- No surfing signs: some surfers like to surf areas that have ‘no swimming’ signs. In these cases, the signs are there for a reason. If you’re visiting Florida, do not swim or surf in those areas.
Adults need to be careful and mind beach signs too. Even if you’re just swimming. If you happen to be renting a boat, know the signs and laws before you head out. We take violations very seriously in Florida. It is also important that you do not drink while swimming, boating, or surfing - it is simply not worth it.
Let’s keep our beaches and pools safe all year long by knowing how to swim, when to swim, when to surf, and when to boat. It’s not hard to learn the rules -- pass this around, so that others can learn them too.