Summer Care: Swimming Safety

For many, the summer means beach trips, vacations, and family fun, but the season can also bring insects, rashes, asthma attacks, sunburns, and more.

While we’re not here to ruin anyone’s good time, we are here to keep you safe and healthy. So, we’re providing a rundown of some summertime perils and how best to treat these conditions.

Southcoast Health reminds you to stay vigilant and to not ignore your symptoms. We are your resource for world-class care close to home, including treatment for seasonal illnesses, minor injuries, and more.

Swimming and water sports are a notable component of summertime fun. However, Southcoast Health reminds you that they also come with increased risks. Drowning is the leading cause of fatalities during the summer months. Drowning can sometimes be fast and silent, happening in as little as 20-60 seconds. 

Follow these guidelines to protect from swimming and water sport accidents: 

Boating safety

  • Check weather and water conditions before leaving shore.
  • Don’t drink and boat. Alcohol is a factor in many boating accidents. Choose a designated boat driver who will not drink.
  • Insist that everyone wear a Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device or life jacket while on board.
  • Always tell someone where you’ll be boating, when you expect to be back, and what your boat looks like.
  • Keep Coast Guard-approved visual distress devices, such as pyrotechnic red flares, orange distress flags, or lights on board.
  • Don’t carry more passengers than the maximum listed on the boat’s capacity plate.

Swimming safety

Here’s how to keep your family safe:

  • If you have a pool, enclose it with a fence, wall, or other barrier at least 4 feet tall. Install self-latching gates that open outward.
  • Don’t assume your child can swim. Many youngsters forget how to swim when panicked.
  • Keep a portable phone in the pool area and program emergency contacts on its speed dial.
  • Keep a close eye on children and nonswimmers who are using inflatable toys, inner tubes, and mattresses. They could slide off them and drown.
  • Closely supervise children when they are diving or jumping in the pool. Head and back injuries are likely to occur during these activities.
  • Keep the pool’s deck area clear of tripping hazards like toys, dishes, and hoses.
  • Review safety measures and rules with guests before they swim.

Safety musts for children

  • Never leave a young child alone in a bathtub, wading pool, swimming pool, lake, or river. If you must answer the phone or get a towel, take the child with you.
  • Be aware of backyard pools in your neighborhood or apartment building. Your child could wander off and fall in.
  • Enroll children in swimming lessons taught by qualified instructors. But remember, the lessons won’t make children “drown-proof.”
  • Teach your older children that they risk drowning when they overestimate their swimming ability or underestimate water depth.

Safety musts for adults

  • Take swimming lessons from a qualified instructor if you’re not a strong, competent swimmer.
  • Don’t swim if you’ve been drinking alcohol.
  • Don’t swim alone or allow others to do so.
  • Stay out of the water during thunderstorms and other severe weather. During lightning storms, seek shelter away from metal objects, open areas, and large, lone trees.
  • Don’t exceed your swimming ability. Know your limits and stick to them.
  • Check the water level before diving into a pool, ocean, pond, reservoir, or lake. Always dive with your arms extended firmly over your head and your hands together.
  • Don’t dive into unknown bodies of water, like lakes, rivers, quarries, or irrigation ditches. Jump feet first to avoid hitting your head (and breaking your neck or back) on a shallow bottom, hidden rock, or other obstruction.
  • Understand and adjust for the unique risks of the water environment you are in, such as:
    • River currents
    • Ocean rip currents
    • Water temperature
    • Shallow or unclear water
    • Underwater hazards, such as vegetation and animals

It is essential to achieve basic water competency to avoid risks and dangers and understand water safety for yourself and those around you. However, sometimes swimming and water sports can lead to less serious concerns such as Swimmer’s ear. 

Less serious, but still problematic, Swimmer’s ear is an infection in the outer ear canal. Swimmer’s ear is often caused by excess moisture in the ear canal. This can occur from prolonged humid weather, sweat, or water that lingers in your ear after swimming – creating a desirable environment for bacteria. 

Mild signs and symptoms include: 

  • Itching in your ear canal
  • Slight redness inside your ear
  • Mild discomfort that’s made worse by pulling on your outer ear (pinna or auricle) or pushing on the little “bump” in front of your ear (tragus)
  • Some drainage of clear, odorless fluid

Moderate progression

  • More-intense itching
  • Increasing pain
  • More-extensive redness in your ear
  • Excessive fluid drainage
  • Feeling of fullness inside your ear and partial blockage of your ear canal by swelling, fluid, and debris
  • Decreased or muffled hearing

Contact your doctor if you have even mild signs or symptoms of Swimmer’s ear.

If you need quick medical care that you and your family can rely on, find your nearest urgent care location or an urgent care doctor today. We gladly accept walk-ins, so no appointment is needed.

The Southcoast Health Urgent Care is open to the public, and you do not need to have a Southcoast Physicians Group doctor to visit our urgent care clinic.

If your condition is an emergency, please call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.