The 3 Most Important Water Safety Tips for Teens

There's more to water safety than knowing how to swim. 

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School’s out, the sun’s out, and tweens and teens everywhere are getting ready to jump in the nearest source of water.

Hitting the pool, beach, lake, and water park are classic ways to beat the summer heat and have loads of fun in the process, but before you rejoice in your teen’s decision to abandon the spot in front of the TV, it’s best to review some water safety guidelines. 

Be warned that young adults may tune their waterlogged ears elsewhere upon your cautioning, figuring, “I can swim. I’ll be fine.” While there’s no doubt that those kiddie swimming lessons a few years back paid off, it takes way more than an impeccable doggie paddle to stay safe in the water. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, drowning is the third leading cause of injury-related death for children ages 19 and under. Here are the three most important things your teen needs to know before getting wet:

Never swim alone. Avoid areas that aren’t supervised by a trained lifeguard, especially when swimming in open water that may be subject to hard-to-escape currents and other unseen obstacles. Always swim with a buddy so that you can help each other in case of emergency, and inform someone on land where you’ll be swimming and when you’ll be back.

Be mindful of your body temperature. Obviously, this doesn’t require riding waves with a thermometer in hand, but it does mean getting out of the water if you feel yourself getting cold or shivering. No matter how hot the sun is shining, body temperature drops much more quickly in water than it does on land, making you an easy target for fast-acting hypothermia. 

Personal floatation devices can save your life. But you have to wear the life jacket, not leave it on the floor of a boat, for it to work. It may feel awkward at first, but it’s worth having if something goes awry. Their use is even required in some states.

There’s plenty more to learn, so be sure to take a good look at the water safety resources below:

Comprehensive tips from the teen health division of kidshealth.org

- A CDC fact sheet explaining the factors that influence drowning risk and what can be done to prevent it

- A guide to choosing the right life jacket from the U.S. Coast Guard

Instructions for responding to an aquatic emergency, courtesy of the American Red Cross

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