Red Cross offers tips for safe swimming

This Fourth of July weekend, with temperatures expected to near 100 in the Modesto area, it’s a sure bet many people are spending a lot of time in backyard and community pools and at reservoirs and rivers.

A recent Red Cross survey found that eight out of 10 Americans planned water activities such as going to the beach, pool, water park, or boating or fishing this summer. Nearly a third (32 percent) of all Americans plan to swim at a place without a lifeguard. The Red Cross has launched an anti-drowning campaign this summer that promotes swim lessons and safe swimming.

“The Fourth of July weekend is a time of fun and celebration,” said Kathleen Weis, chief executive officer for the Red Cross Capital Region, in a news release. “Knowing how to keep (yourself) and your loved ones safe around the water will help minimize risks and ensure an enjoyable holiday.”

The Red Cross offers the following tips:

• Learn to swim, and swim only in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.

• Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone.

• Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone.

• Provide close and constant attention to children and inexperienced swimmers you are supervising in or near the water. Avoid distractions while supervising.

• Limit the amount of direct sunlight received between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 15. Reapply often.

• Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water regularly, even if you’re not thirsty. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine.

• For a backyard pool, have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cellphone, life jackets and a first-aid kit.

• Secure the backyard pool with appropriate barriers, including four-sided fencing.

• Make sure everyone, including children, knows how and when to call 911.

• Never leave a young child unattended near water, and do not trust a child’s life to another child. Teach children to always ask permission to go near water. If a child is missing, check the water first.

The Red Cross offers free swimming and first-aid apps. Swim app users can learn water safety and drowning prevention information for a variety of aquatic environments. Children can have fun learning water safety tips with the child-friendly videos and quizzes in the app.

The first-aid app puts expert advice for everyday emergencies at your fingertips. The apps are available for smartphones and tablets and can be downloaded from the Apple or Google Play for Android app stores. The swim app is also available in the Amazon Kindle Store.

The Red Cross and the National Swimming Pool Foundation also have developed an online safety course for pool and hot tub owners. Home Pool Essentials – homepoolessentials.org – helps people understand the risks of pool ownership, how to maintain a safer and cleaner pool, what safety equipment is appropriate, how to prevent pool and hot tub entrapment hazards and how to respond to an emergency.