It’s summer once again. The season starts somewhere between the end of the school year and the beginning of the Holy Week break.
And what can be a better way to ease hot summer days than swimming?
From north to south, beautiful beaches beguile in every corner of the Philippines. Besides beaches, we also have countless resorts and water parks in the country.
Swimming, undoubtedly, is everyone’s favorite summer activity. However, according to the World Health Organization, about 372,000 people drown globally and drowning is one of the 10 leading causes of death for children and young people in every region of the world.
In the country, statistics show that about eight Filipinos die daily due to drowning, and about 10 Filipinos every day are victims of near drowning. Of the 3,000 annual deaths in the Philippines due to drowning, 36% are children 14 years old and below.
Just recently, a four-year-old boy drowned in Iloilo. The boy’s father said there was no lifeguard on duty at the village clubhouse pool when the incident happened. Village officials denied the allegation.
The Philippine Coast Guard, meanwhile, said they will inspect beach resorts with pool facilities nationwide to see if they have capable lifeguards or if they have signs put up for the benefit of beach and swimming pool guests.
Now, before you head out to the nearest water park or beach, here are a rundown of what you can and cannot do in both places to ensure yours and your loved ones’ safety.
DOs at the Beach and in Swimming Pools:
- Check weather updates before leaving, watch out for bad weather reports.
- Check whether there are certified lifeguards around. Resort owners are mandated to assign duly licensed lifeguards in their establishments to ensure the safety of their guests.
- Follow regulations and heed reminders of the lifeguards.
- Check whether beach resorts have standby medics, safety and rescue equipment such as life vests and buoys, and emergency communication devices.
- Walk and refrain from running along the poolside.
- Adults must always look after their children while they are swimming.
- Always make sure that there are proper floating devices.
- Inform beach resort owners about overnight swimming.
- Even when children have had formal swimming lessons, do not leave them unattended.
- Knowing Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) is an advantage.In the time it might take for lifeguards or paramedics to arrive, your CPR skills could save someone’s life.
- Know the terrain.Be aware of and avoid drop-offs and hidden obstacles in natural water sites. Always enter water feet first.
- Drink plenty of water regularly, even if you’re not thirsty. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine in them.
- Protect your skin. Limit the amount of direct sunlight you receive between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. and wear sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 15.
- Do barbecue in the designated area.
- Do put litter into the rubbish bin.
- Do tidy up your area before you leave.
- Do swim within the swimming zone.
- Do dispose of ring pulls and any other sharp objects properly to avoid causing danger to others.
- Do walk through the overhead shower bath and footbath before entering the pool.
- Keep a lookout for aquatic life. Water plants and animals may be dangerous. Avoid patches of plants. Leave animals alone.
- Be aware of ocean life. Most ocean life by the shore shouldn’t cause too much worry, but it’s always good to be aware. Barnacles and the shells of mussels and clams can be very sharp, so watch carefully when walking on rocks and move slowly while walking out into the water. Little crabs also have an affinity for pinching, so proceed carefully over small rocks with nooks and crannies. Jellyfish are another creature to look out for — many varieties have tentacles that can discharge venom-filled stingers into your skin, causing a sting. These can vary greatly in severity: They usually result only in a painful, red, irritated mark, though some types can cause severe and life-threatening injuries.
- Be aware of the danger of rip currents or better avoid rip currents.Watch for dangerous waves and signs of rip currents, like water that is discolored and choppy, foamy, or filled with debris and moving in a channel away from shore. If you are caught in a rip current, stay calm and don’t fight the current. Swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current. Once you are free, turn and swim toward shore.
- If you can’t swim to the shore, float or tread water until you are free of the rip current and then head toward shore. If you feel you can’t make it to the shore, draw attention to yourself by waving and calling for help.
- Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist near these structures.
- If someone is in trouble in the water, get help from a lifeguard. If a lifeguard is not available, have someone call for emergency. Throw the victim something that floats – a lifejacket, cooler, inflatable ball and yell instructions on how to escape the current.
- When at the beach, check conditions before entering the water. Check to see if any warning flags are up or ask a lifeguard about water conditions, beach conditions, or any potential hazards.
DON’Ts at the Beach and in Swimming Pools:
- Don’t conduct any activities that are likely to cause danger, obstruction, or nuisance to others.
- Avoid swimming alone.
- Don’t swim intoxicated.
- Don’t take any dog to the beach.
- Don’t spit.
- Don’t set up any tent on the beach.
- Don’t bring any vessel, boat, canoe, surfboard or water-ski into the swimming zone.
- Don’t use any swimming aids in the main pool except within the hired lanes.
- Don’t dive or jump into the swimming pool. Don’t dive headfirst—protect your neck. Check for depth and obstructions before diving, and go in feet first the first time.
- Don’t hyperventilate.Swimmers should never hyperventilate before swimming underwater or try to hold their breath for long periods of time. This can cause them to pass out (sometimes called “shallow water blackout”) and drown.
- Don’t use public swimming pools if you have any of the following diseases or symptoms. Consult your doctor promptly:
- Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease
- Red-eye Syndrome
- Fever and/or respiratory symptoms such as coughing and sneezing.
Summer is fun – if we don’t let our guard down and put our loved ones’ safety at risk.