Families Planning Water Activities this Summer, but Two in Ten Lack Good Swimming Skills

New American Red Cross survey reinforces need for water safety as nearly 80 percent of Americans plan to engage in water-related activities this summer.

Two in ten people planning to swim, boat or fish this summer cannot swim well, according to a new national survey by the American Red Cross.

Nearly 8 in 10 households (78 percent) are planning at least one water-related recreational activity this summer such as swimming, boating and fishing. However, 21 percent described their swimming skills as fair, poor or nonexistent – including three percent unable to swim at all, the Red Cross survey found.

“Learning how to swim and maintaining constant supervision of those in or near the water are crucial elements of water safety,” said Dr. Peter Wernicki, chair, Aquatics Subcommittee of the American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council. “This Memorial Day, as we head into the summer season, we urge families to make water safety a priority.”

Sadly, each year drownings occur, yet many could have been prevented:

  • One-third of the survey respondents (32 percent) mistakenly believe that having a small child wear a flotation device is safer than providing arm’s-reach supervision.
  • One in five (18 percent) of adults are unsure what to do if they are caught in a strong current.
  • Nearly two in five (38 percent) recalled an experience in which someone in deep water needed help.

The Red Cross recommends designating at least one adult to solely be responsible for watching those in and around the water – even if a lifeguard is present. Adults should be in the water with inexperienced swimmers and remain within arm’s reach of them.

This “arm’s-reach supervision” is safer than putting water wings or floaties on a small child, as these items are not designed to keep a child’s face out of the water and can leak, slip off and provide a false sense of security.

Children should not go near or enter the water without the permission and supervision of an adult. Those who own a home pool should secure it with appropriate barriers and install pool and gate alarms.

If caught in a rip current, people should swim parallel to shore until they are out of the current and they can safely make it to shore. However, 32 percent said they weren’t confident that they could actually do it.

Most adults – 80 percent – knew that throwing a rope or something that floats would be the best way to help someone struggling in deep water rather than going in after them.

Red Cross Aquatics Training

The Red Cross has been a leader in aquatics training for more than 95 years and has developed a comprehensive program starting with Parent and Child Aquatics (6 months to about 5 years old) through lessons for adults. Participants learn swimming skills with a strong emphasis on drowning prevention and water safety.

Water safety tips and information can be found on redcross.org, and people can contact their local Red Cross to find out where Learn-to-Swim programs are offered.

For those who own pools and hot tubs, the Red Cross has a Home Pool Essentials™: Maintenance and Safety online safety course that teaches the fundamentals of creating and maintaining a safe environment.

The Red Cross is also part of the planned 2011 World’s Largest Swimming Lesson on Tuesday, June 14, at 11:00 a.m. EDT at waterparks, community pools and aquatic facilities around the globe. At many locations, there is no cost to participate in this event, and more details can be found at www.worldslargestswimminglesson.org.

 

Survey details: Telephone survey of 1,085 adults U.S. adults 18 years and older on April 7-11, 2011, conducted by ORC International.  Margin of error is +/- 3.0 percent at the 95% confidence level. Polling included total sample of 175 African-American adults, with 82 included through a second wave of telephone interviews. Where appropriate, comparison values from a March 2009 poll have been included: Telephone survey of  1,002 U.S. Adults 18 years and older on March 20-23, 2009, conducted by CARAVAN® Opinion Research Corporation.  Margin of error is +/- 3.1 percent at the 95% confidence level.

 

About the American Red Cross:

 

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation’s blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.

 

 

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