Swim Safety: Having Fun and Staying Safe This Summer

Adobe Stock

When you take the kids to the pool, you need to make sure everyone is doing their part to stay safe. Nothing puts a damper on summer fun like having to get pulled out of the pool by a lifeguard! Let’s take a look at some swim safety tips to keep you and your family happy and healthy this summer.

Trust Me: Wear Sunscreen

No matter your complexion or the amount of cloud cover, it’s always a good idea to wear sunscreen when you’re sitting outside. Direct sunlight contains ultraviolet, or UV, rays. These rays can cause damage to the top layer of your skin. These sunburns are painful and itchy, for one thing. What’s worse, prolonged exposure to direct sunlight without sunscreen can increase your risk for skin cancer later in life!

It doesn’t take long to put on sunscreen. Make sure you reapply it every few hours, too, and whenever you get back out of the water. No one wants to contend with an irritated sunburn!

To Dive or Not to Dive?

Heed any posted warnings about diving, and use common sense if you’re at a private pool or a natural body of water. If the water is less than nine feet deep, don’t dive head-first into it. Doing so could result in smacking your head into the bottom of the pool, or into a rock at the bottom of a lake or creek. Such an impact is painful, for one thing, and potentially deadly. If you knock yourself unconscious underwater, it will be very difficult for anyone to pull you back to dry land.

This advice goes double if there are no lifeguards around. Make sure your family knows to avoid head-first dives in general, just to avoid the chance of an underwater impact.

Should You Wait to Swim After You Eat?

Also, let’s dispel a swimming myth while we’re here today: no, you don’t need to wait half an hour after eating to go for a swim. The myth goes that, since your body diverts blood flow to the intestines after you eat, that you will find it harder to swim because your arms and legs will have less blood. Or, alternatively, some versions of the myth contend the opposite, that diverting the blood away from your stomach to your limbs will result in a stomach ache so intense it could drown you.

This is just untrue. While it might be a bit uncomfortable to engage in rigorous athletic activity shortly after eating a big meal, it’s not any more dangerous than swimming on an empty stomach.

That being said, working up a big appetite by going for a swim is a unique pleasure of summer. Eating before swimming somewhat defeats this family-favorite activity, so we’d advise swimming before eating for slightly different reasons!