Splish, splash! Water safety tips

Published in Pediatrics, For the Health of It Author: Mackensey Stang, BLEND Program Specialist

It is FINALLY time for us to swap out the jackets for swimsuits and enjoy the wonderful season that is summer in Minnesota. In the land of 10,000 lakes, it just wouldn’t be Minnesotan of any of us to go through a summer without taking a dip in the water. It is important to remember the safety precautions that should be taken when swimming in natural bodies of water and always proceed with caution.

  1. Be conscious of the water temperature. Minnesota is unpredictable when it comes to weather, and a snowstorm on a Monday can be followed by 80 degrees the following weekend. Just because it is warm out, does not mean that the water is safe for swimming. Anything below 70 degrees Fahrenheit is too cold for most swimmers. Comfortable water temperatures are between 82 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Signs of hypothermia in swimmers include shivering, numbness and a loss of motor control. Once a person is displaying confusion and slurred speech, they may be developing moderate hypothermia.
  3. NEVER leave young children unattended by water. It only takes two inches of water for a child under the age of 2 to drown, so even wading a few feet off of the shoreline requires constant supervision.
  4. Keep close to shore, especially if you are a less experienced swimmer.
  5. If you choose to swim further from shore, wear a brightly colored swim cap or bring along bright buoys to make yourself visible to those operating motorized watercrafts.
  6. Swim in groups. This provides safety in numbers, assistance to swimmers in distress and higher visibility.
  7. Know your limits. It may be easy to swim to the middle of a lake, but if the distance is too great, exhaustion may set in before you are able to make it back to shore.

We should take advantage of the gorgeous summers, as long as we remember to think first and act second. The water provides a great recreational resource, but put safety first!