Plastics and Recreational Water Safety: A Swimming Combination

Plastics and Recreational Water Safety: A Swimming Combination Image

When it comes to water safety, prevention is the best policy.  It’s also important to know what to do in an emergency.  According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there can be more than 3,000 drowning fatalities in the U.S. annually, and for every child 14 years and younger who dies from drowning, five more receive emergency care for nonfatal submersion injuries.

The good news is that there are some relatively simple things parents can do – and teach their children – to promote water safety at home, at the pool, while boating, and on vacation.  A number of plastic safety devices are available to help keep your kids safe in and around the water.  Plastics are durable, lightweight and waterproof – great for products used in the wet environment.

How to use a pole or ring buoy in an emergency
If a swimmer is in trouble, quickly grab a pole, ring buoy, rope or even a towel and throw or extend the object without getting into the water yourself. Firmly brace yourself and, once the victim has taken hold of the object, pull him or her to safety. If you can’t get to a phone, yell for someone to call 9-1-1. Try to avoid coming into direct contact with the person who is drowning. The danger is that a struggling swimmer could easily – though unintentionally – pull you underwater.  


Staying Safe In, On, or Near the Water

  • Learn to swim. It’s the most important thing anyone – parents and kids – can do to increase safety near the water.
  • Learn CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).  Everyone caring for children near the water should be trained in CPR.
  • Closely supervise children whenever they are around the water and teach older children to always swim with a buddy. 
  • Use U.S. Coast Guard-approved plastic flotation devices to help newer swimmers stay above water, but keep in mind that these are not intended to be used as supervision substitutes.  Parents should remain close to children and attentive.
  • If you have a backyard pool, keep a U.S. Coast Guard-approved plastic ring buoy and a lightweight reaching pole close by and teach your children how to use them in an emergency.
  • If you have a backyard pool, enclose the pool area completely with an appropriate self-closing, self-locking fence.  Plastic pool covers also are helpful but should be completely removed prior to using the pool.
  • Wear skid-resistant plastic water shoes to prevent feet from getting burned on a hot deck or in the sand.
  • In a boating situation, make sure everyone is outfitted with a U.S. Coast Guard-approved plastic life vest or personal flotation device that is appropriately sized for a child or adult.
  • Help kids stay alert and hydrated by giving them plenty of water before they start to feel thirsty.  Use shatter-resistant plastic cups or bring along a lightweight, shatter-resistant plastic water bottle.
  • Keep a portable phone or cell phone on hand, and store it in a sealable plastic bag to help keep it dry.  Teach children to call 9-1-1 in case of an emergency.

Keeping Afloat with Plastics
Personal floatation devices (PFDs) constructed of lightweight, durable plastics – including polyethylene foam, nylon and vinyl – help keep your head above the surface, provide buoyancy and assist in thermal protection in emergency situations. Non-swimmers should always use a U.S. Coast Guard-approved PFD when they are in or around the water. Be sure to select a PDF that fits; it should not be restrictive, reduce upper body movement or impede the airway. Even the strongest swimmers should use a PFD while boating.  In fact, many states and waterways now require it.


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