Bounce once, bounce forward
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There’s a right and wrong way to bounce on a diving board. Bounce once, and jump straight ahead—not to the side. Bouncing twice can cause you to slip or land in shallow water. “Boards were developed for professional divers,” says Tom Gill, public information officer for the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA) and a lifeguard in Virginia Beach, Virginia. “When people use them in smaller pools and double bounce, they can overshoot and go farther than the deep end. It can also make you belly flop.” Jump straight ahead to avoid crashing into the side of the pool. A study in the journal Pediatrics found that about 111,000 diving-related injuries in people under age 19 were treated in emergency rooms from 1990 to 2006. The main cause of injury? Collision with the diving board or platform.
Floaties don’t always keep a child afloat
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A lifeguard’s rule of thumb: Don’t float where you can’t swim. Not only can floaties slip off, they can give children a false sense of confidence in their swimming abilities. For young children or inexperienced swimmers, opt for a more secure life jacket, and check the label to make sure it is U.S. Coast Guard-approved and appropriate for your child’s chest size and weight. When the life jacket is on, there should be no extra space above the arm openings, so it doesn’t cover your child’s face in the water. “We still want parents to be very closely watching their kids whenever they’re in the water,” says Michael Creegan, aquatics director at the YMCA of greater New York. “Beginner swimmers should stay in water that’s up to their chest in depth or shallower, even if they have a life jacket on.” Drowing looks differently than you might think. Here are 8 silent signs of someone drowning.
Stop the holding-breath games
Who can hold their breath longer? It’s an everyday pool dare, but also a risky game. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently issued a report linking underwater breath holding to fatal drowning incidents. Shallow-water blackout is loss of consciousness from intentionally restraining from breathing underwater, usually on the shallow end of the pool. “Kids overexert themselves and pass out underwater,” says Pete DeQuincy, aquatics manager at East Bay Regional Park District in California. Though nationwide incidents are difficult to track, the CDC reports 16 shallow-water blackouts in New York State from 1988 to 2011. Four were fatal.