BOISE – As temperatures rise, swimming pools, lakes, rivers and oceans become popular places to cool off and enjoy water sports.  But sadly, 4,000 people drown each year in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control.

“Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death between the ages of 1 and 4, and many of these fatalities occur even with an adult close by,” says AAA Idaho public affairs director Matthew Conde.  “Even experienced swimmers benefit from exercising caution in the water.”

AAA offers these tips to help prevent a tragedy:

  • Set boundaries.  At home, pools should be covered when not in use, and should also be surrounded by a fence or another barrier.  In the ocean, parents should position themselves between the shore and deeper water so that children don’t venture out too far and so they can respond quickly in the event of an emergency.
  • Keep children away from pool filters and other mechanical devices, strong river currents, and areas where riptides could pull them out into the ocean.
  • Keep lifesaving equipment nearby.  Everyone who is boating or in fast-moving water should be wearing a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life vest, and inexperienced swimmers should be wearing one at all times, including in pools.  At the pool, note the location of life rings, floats, and reaching poles.
  • Check for and remove dangerous items, including glass bottles, electrical devices, and anything that may pose a tripping hazard.  Keep toys out of the pool when it isn’t in use, as kids may fall into the pool trying to reach them.
  • Set limits.  If you or another person in your group is experiencing fatigue or muscle cramping, take a break from the water.
  • Complete CPR and first aid training, or refresh your training if it’s been a while.
  • Limit alcohol use.
  • If you own a pool, contact your insurance company to make sure you have the right coverage.

“Please remember that a person who is drowning may not call out for help.  In that moment of panic, people sometimes remain silent but look like they’re trying to climb a ladder out of the water,” Conde said.  “No matter where you are, whether in or on the water, actively scan for others who may be in danger, and also take precautions to avoid putting yourself in harm’s way.  Have fun, but keep safety top of mind.”