July 10, 2009

Rescuers should know how to swim

Adults who supervise children or inexperienced swimmers need to know how to swim, a U.S. doctor says.

Dr. Brent King of the University of Texas Medical School at Houston says basic water safety and lifesaving classes are available and everyone should learn basic cardiopulmonary resuscitation procedures for cardiac or respiratory arrest emergencies.

Young children can drown in just a few minutes, so the supervising adult should pay full attention to the swimmers, King says in a statement. However, supervision can be ineffective if those watching the swimmers do not know how to swim or safely rescue a drowning person.

King says water safety can be increased if:

-- Constant and careful supervision and barriers such as pool fencing remain in place, even when children have completed swimming classes.

-- Air-filled or foam toys are not used in place of U.S. Coast Guard approved life jackets, personal flotation devices. Toys are not designed to keep swimmers safe.

-- Alcohol is not mixed with water activities.

-- Swimmers should swim with a buddy, select sites that have lifeguards whenever possible, keep local weather conditions in mind and remember that if caught in a rip current to swim parallel to shore until free of the current and able to swim toward shore.