Open water: 7 ways to safer swims

Summer getaways often take families to the open waters for refreshing fun.

“But, just like pools – ponds, lakes and beaches can be dangerous, especially for children, if you don’t follow some important guidelines,” said Dr. Natalie Lane, medical director of the Children’s Hospital of Georgia Emergency Department.

“Supervision is the single most important safety measure. This supervision should be a designated task for an adult that can sDr. Natalie Lane.CHOG.ER.wim and rescue a drowning victim if needed.” Lane said.

Here are seven steps that will help you keep your family safe around open water:

  1. Make sure an adult who can swim and knows CPR is actively watching children whenever they are in or near the water, and use “touch supervision” by staying within arm’s length of younger children.
  2. Never swim alone. Even good swimmers need buddies, including teens and adults.
  3. Caution teenagers to never take risks in open water.
  4. Don’t let children swim in rivers or fast-moving water, as they can tire more quickly and get into trouble.
  5. Teach children to avoid diving into open water except when permitted by an adult who knows the depth and has checked for underwater dangers.
  6. Allow ocean swimming only when a lifeguard is on duty.
  7. Caution children about rip currents. If caught in a rip current, it’s best to swim parallel to shore until you escape the current, and then swim back to shore.Lane also advises that if your open-water fun includes boating, then everyone in the boat should wear the appropriately-sized, snug-fitting life jacket.

“Adults should wear life jackets not only for personal protection, but to set a good example for the children.”

She also warns that inflatable water wings, toys, and rafts should never be substituted for life preservers.

“They’re not intended for life-saving measures, but only for play and leisure,” Lane said.

Drowning is one of the most common and most tragic injuries that can occur in children and teenagers. Please take appropriate steps to prevent it.

You can find more information on swimming, boating, and water safety by visiting the American Academy of Pediatrics website.

The 154-bed not-for-profit Children’s Hospital of Georgia is the second-largest children’s hospital in the state, providing a wide range of general and complex health care for children, including the highest level of pediatric critical care and neonatal intensive care, and a 16-bed pediatric emergency department with trauma care. CHOG was recently ranked as the nation’s top performing hospital in pediatric quality and safety by the University HealthSystem Consortium of academic medical centers. Visit or follow on Twitter at

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Written by
Denise Parrish

Denise Parrish is Director of Communications for Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement at Augusta University. Contact her to schedule an interview on this topic at 706-721-9760 or

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Written by Denise Parrish

Jagwire is your source for news and stories from Augusta University. Daily updates highlight the many ways students, faculty, staff, researchers and clinicians "bring their A games" in classrooms and clinics on four campuses in Augusta and locations across the state of Georgia.

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