American Red Cross Survey Finds People Unclear about How to Stay Safe in the Water

Most families plan to swim in areas without lifeguards this summer, but
lack basic water safety knowledge

(June 13, 2013) — Even though nearly two-thirds of families with small children plan on swimming in areas without lifeguards this summer, many people don’t know the right thing to do in water emergencies or how to keep their loved ones safe in the water, according to a new American Red Cross poll.

“People tend to spend more time in and around the water during the summer, so now is a great to review water safety precautions so you know what to do to stay safe,” said Patty Flowers, Regional Chapter Executive.

The Red Cross poll found 63 percent of families with children plan on swimming in an area without a lifeguard this summer. However, nearly half of those polled had never taken swimming lessons, with African-Americans (32 percent) less likely to have received formal training.

Nearly half of Americans say they have had an experience where they were afraid they would drown, according to the findings. Hispanics reported a higher percentage (66%) of having such an experience over Whites (46%). Overall, four in 10 (41%) say they know someone who was in danger of drowning, which is an increase of 16 percentage points from a similar 2009 Red Cross survey.

Two thirds (67%) of those asked mistakenly believe that putting inflatable arm bands, or “water wings,” on children is enough to keep them safe when an adult is not nearby. These are not lifesaving devices, and children and weak/inexperienced swimmers should wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets while remaining under constant adult supervision.

The survey findings show that people mistakenly believe some steps such as having a swimming buddy or flotation device will keep them safe. For example, while the Red Cross recommends that people always swim with a buddy in designated swimming areas supervised by lifeguards, buddies alone are not enough to keep swimmers safe.

Another concerning finding in the 2013 Red Cross survey was that most of those polled were unsure of the right steps to take when someone appears to be in distress in the water: More than nine in 10 (93%) people were unable to identify the correct order of actions to take to help a swimmer who may be in danger of drowning.

“The correct steps to take when you see a swimmer who needs help is to shout for help, reach or throw the person a rescue or flotation device and tell them to grab it; then call 9-1-1 if needed,” Flowers said. “People think that if a person isn’t calling out for help that they must be ok. However, they are likely using all their energy to just try to stay above water.”

“People think they should enter the water to save someone, but often this endangers the life of the rescuer,” she added.

 Other signs of a swimmer in trouble include:

  • Treading water and waving an arm
  • Doggie paddling with no forward progress
  • Hanging onto a safety line
  • Floating on their back and waving their arms
  • Arms extended side or front, pressing down for support, but making no forward progress
  • Positioned vertically in the water, but not kicking legs
  • Underwater for more than 30 seconds
  • Floating at surface, face-down, for more than 30 seconds

Red Cross swimming lessons help people develop skills and water safety behaviors that help people be more comfortable and safe when they are in, on and around the water. The Red Cross encourages all household members to enroll in age-appropriate water orientation and Learn-to-Swim programs. To find classes for your family, contact your local aquatic facility and ask for American Red Cross swimming programs.

An infographic highlighting survey results has been developed. People can find additional water safety information at redcross.org/watersafetytips.

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Survey details: Telephone survey of 1,011 U.S. Adults 18 years and older on April 11-14, 2013 conducted in ORC International’s CARAVAN® survey using a landline-cell dual-frame sampling design.  Margin of error is +/- 3.1 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. For comparison, this report includes findings from a 2009 Water Safety Poll–Telephone survey of  1,002 U.S. Adults 18 years and older on March 20-23, 2009 conducted by ORC International’s CARAVAN®. 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 about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or join our blog at blog.redcross.org.

It’s Fishing & Boating Week: June 1st-9th.

By: PaKou Lee, Red Cross Volunteer

It’s that time of the year to pack your tackle box with the best lures and hooks. Bring your fishing pole and roll out the boat because it’s a week of celebrating fishing and boating. Don’t forget the sunscreen and safety rules!

It’s always an exciting adventure when it comes to fishing and boating. It brings families together and there’s happiness all around. People are soaking up the sun with their loved ones and enjoying their time off work.

One summer that I will never forget is the summer of 2002. I was 13 years old. A family friend named Mary took my brother, niece, two cousins, and me to Lake Mille Lac, MN. Lake Mille Lac is a popular tourism for family vacations. There are plenty of activities to choose from: shopping, fishing, camping, hiking, and more. It was about a 2-hour drive up north from my home in St. Paul. Mary’s family had cabins by the shore and was big into water skiing and tubing.

The first thing we all did when we arrived was swim. The weather was extremely hot, we jumped right into the lake to cool off. Of course, Mary always made sure we had tons of sunscreen on. My niece, Amy, and I also fed leftover bread to the fish on the dock while my brother, Tee, and cousins, Fong and Dennis, fished for them.

The adults brought out the boat, skis, and water tubes. I watched Fong and Dennis struggle with the skis; it was their first time. They went into the water before they even got the chance to stand up. I was too afraid to try so I took the easy route: water tubing. All I had to do was lay on the water tube and hold on tight, that I was able to do.

Amy and I rode on one water tube together. We didn’t know what to expect, as it was our first time water tubing. We were so nervous that we squealed when the boat started to go. The speed increased and my adrenaline rush was filled with fear and exhilaration. I squinted most of the time because of the intense wind and pressure.  As the boat took a turn and slowed down, Amy and I let go and went flying in the air. It was quite amazing being in the air, but it quickly ended when we landed in the water. I landed pretty hard. What felt like 6-ft. deep, I was probably 3-ft. under the water. I was so scared I wasn’t going to reach the surface in time to get air. Of course, I had my life jacket on so I floated up fine. It was so much fun, Amy and I did it again one more time before we left for home.

SAMSUNG

Amy (L) and me (R) water tubing.

Fortunately, it was a great summer with no accidents for us.  We wore life jackets to keep us safe, wore sunscreen to protect our skin, and stayed close to shore when swimming near by.

Here are some water safety tips to keep in mind when out celebrating this week:

Red Cross Offers Tips for a Safe 4th of July

Whether at the beach or in one’s backyard, follow these steps to enjoy the holiday.

The Independence Day Holiday is just around the corner and many people will visit the beach, enjoy fireworks, or fire up the grill for a backyard barbecue.

“The American Red Cross wants everyone to have a happy — and safe — Fourth of July holiday, and taking a few simple steps to stay safe can help ensure that this will be an enjoyable holiday for all,” said Steve Hansen, Chapter Executive

WATER SAFETY If swimming is part of someone’s holiday plans, they should check the weather and swim only at a lifeguard-protected pool or beach within the designated swimming area and obey all safety rules. Avoid alcohol before and during any water activities and make sure to never swim alone.

Other tips to keep in mind:

  • Actively supervise children at all times – even if a lifeguard is present. Stay within arm’s reach of young children when they are in the water.
  • Have weak swimmers wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket. Don’t rely on water wings or inflatable toys.
  • Always enter shallow water feet first. Dive only in areas marked safe for diving. 

Additional water safety tips are located at redcross.org/watersafetytips.

WATCH THE SUN Everyone should limit the amount of direct sunlight they receive between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and apply broad-spectrum sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 15 throughout the day. Wear sunglasses that will absorb UV sunlight to protect one’s eyes. And remember to protect one’s feet by wearing some kind of beach shoes.

Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine in them. Wear loose-fitting clothing, lightweight and light colored. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays. Take frequent work if you must work outdoors. Do no leave any people or pets in vehicles.

Be a great neighbor by checking on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat, especially the elderly.

FIREWORKS SAFETY Nothing says “Fourth of July” like fireworks. To help stay safe while enjoying them, follow these safety steps:

  • Never give fireworks to small children and always follow the instructions on the packaging.
  • Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution.
  • Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.
  • Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight “a dud.”
  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from children and pets.
  • Never throw or point fireworks toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.
  • Stay at least 500 feet away from professional fireworks displays.
  • Leave any area immediately where untrained amateurs are using fireworks. 

GRILLING SAFETY If a picnic and grilled goodies are part of someone’s holiday plans, they should follow these steps:

  • Always watch the barbecue grill when in use.
  • Never grill indoors – not in a house, camper, tent or any enclosed area.
  • Make sure children and pets stay away from the grill.
  • Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, the deck, tree branches or anything that could catch fire. 
  • Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to keep the chef safe.
  • Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using grills. 

In addition to these tips, all iPhone and Android smart phone owners should download the new, free American Red Cross First Aid app now so they will have information on how to treat everyday emergencies right in their hands. You can find the app in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross.

Red Cross Offers Tips on How to Have a Safe Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day weekend is just ahead and for many it may mean taking to the highway for a quick vacation, breaking out the grill for some outdoor cooking, or taking that first dip in the pool. The American Red Cross offers some safety tips to help everyone have a great weekend.

“The Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer and we want everyone to enjoy it,” said Steve Hansen, the local Chapter Executive. “There are steps people can take to help stay safe while they have fun over the holiday weekend.”

DRIVE SAFELY With many people traveling over the holiday weekend, it’s more important than ever to drive safely. People should be well rested and alert, use their seat belts, observe speed limits and follow the rules of the road. If anyone plans on drinking alcohol, they should designate a driver who won’t be drinking.

Other tips for a safe trip include:

  • Drivers should give full attention to the road.  Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
  • Leave ample room when behind other vehicles.
  • Use caution in work zones.
  • Make frequent stops when traveling long distances.
  • Clean the vehicle’s lights and windows, especially at night.
  • Turn the vehicle’s headlights on as dusk approaches, or during inclement weather.
  • Use high beams on rural roads unless approaching or following a vehicle.

SAFE GRILLING The onset of grilling season often results in injuries and fires due to careless cooking practices. The Red Cross offers steps people can follow to help stay safe while enjoying those tasty cookout treats:

  • Never grill indoors.
  • Always supervise a grill when in use, and make sure everyone, including pets, stays away from the grill.
  • Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, the deck, tree branches, or anything that could catch fire.
  • Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill.
  • Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using grills.
  • Be ready to close the lid and turn off the grill to cut off the fuel if necessary.
  • Keep a fireproof pan under the grill to catch any falling ash or grease.

WATER SAFETY Learning to swim is one of the best steps someone can take to be comfortable and safe around water. People can contact their local aquatic facilities to get information about Red Cross swimming classes. Home Pool Essentials (homepoolessentials.org) is an online safety course for pool and hot tub owners.

Other safety tips include:

  • Swim only in designated areas supervised by lifeguards. Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone.
  • Prevent unsupervised access to the water. Install and use barriers around your home pool or hot tub.
  • Maintain constant supervision. Always stay within arm’s reach of young children even when lifeguards are present.
  • Know what to do in an emergency. If a child is missing, check the water first. Know how and when to call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
  • Have appropriate rescue equipment, a phone, life jackets and a first aid kit near the pool.

For full information on how to be prepared and to help stay safe this summer, visit redcross.org.

About the Northeast WI Chapter:

The Northeast Wisconsin Chapter serves 20 counties with a mission to prevent, prepare for and respond to disasters. To learn more about local Red Cross programs, volunteer opportunities, and how you can help, contact the Chapter headquarters at 920-231-3590 or visit www.NEWRedCross.org. Find us on facebook.com/newredcross, twitter.com/newredcross, the local blog is newredcrossblog.org and Chapter photos are at flickr.com/photos/newredcross.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies more than 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.

 

Fourth of July Safe Tips from the Red Cross

This Fourth of July, friends and loved ones all across the country will gather to celebrate our nation’s independence and what is for many, the unofficial start of summer. If your traditions include fireworks, barbecues, or relaxing days at the pool or beach, the American Red Cross can help you prevent emergencies and enjoy a safer holiday by offering the following tips:

Water safety at the pool and beach:
The best thing anyone can do to stay safe in and around the water is to learn to swim. The Red Cross has swimming courses for people of any age and swimming ability. To find out where lessons are offered or to enroll in a CPR/AED or first aid course, contact your local Red Cross chapter.

  • Swim in a supervised, marked area with a lifeguard present, and swim with others. Never swim alone.
  • Enter the water feet first. Enter the water headfirst only when the area is clearly marked for diving and has no obstructions.
  • Adults should never leave a child unobserved around water. Practice “reach supervision” by staying within an arm’s length of young children and weak swimmers while they are in and around the pool, lake or ocean.
  • Take frequent breaks (about once an hour) where everyone gets out of the water, drinks water, reapplies sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher) and rests.
  • If you are caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current. Once you are free, turn and swim toward shore. If you can’t swim to the shore, float or tread water until you are free of the rip current and then head toward shore.
  • Watch out for the “dangerous too’s” ‚“ too tired, too cold, too far from safety, too much sun, too much strenuous activity.
  • Post CPR instructions and directions to call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number in the pool area.
  • Keep toys away from the pool when it is not in use. Toys can attract young children into the pool.
  • If a child is missing, check the pool first. Go to the edge of the pool and scan the entire pool, bottom, and surface, as well as the surrounding pool area.

Firework safety:
There are nearly 9,000 emergency room-treated injuries associated with fireworks a year, according to the U.S. Consumer Product and Safety Commission. You can enjoy these Fourth of July staples safely by doing the following:

  • Never give fireworks to small children, and always follow the instructions on the packaging.
  • Keep a supply of water close-by as a precaution.
  • Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.
  • Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight “a dud.”
  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from children and pets.
  • Never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.
  • Stay at least 500 feet away from professional fireworks displays.
  • Leave any area immediately where untrained amateurs are using fireworks.

How to prevent this from happening!

Safe Grilling:
Nothing says summer quite like the smell of barbecue. Make sure safety is a key ingredient in your Fourth of July by reading the following tips for safer grilling:

  • Use gas and charcoal barbecue grills outside only.
  • Position grills far from siding, deck railings, overhanging branches and house eaves.
  • Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grill area.
  • Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using grills.
  • Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use.

For more safety tips or to register for a water safety, first aid or CPR/AED course, visitwww.redcross.org. The American Red Cross wishes everyone a safe and happy Fourth of July!

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 athttp://blog.redcross.org.