Swimming & Biking Should Be Fun! Stay Safe With These Tips
Last week I wrote about summer being the perfect time to get outdoors and play, and in North Carolina, that’s a very easy thing to do. We have scenic byways and windy roads to cycle plus beautiful beaches, lakes and pools to enjoy. Unfortunately, according to Safe Kids USA, drowning increases 89% (over the annual monthly average) and injuries from biking increase 45% in the summer. What can we do to stay safe this summer? Consider the following:
Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional deaths among children ages 1 to 14 in the United States. Sadly, nearly 9 out of 10 fatalities occur during a very brief lapse in supervision. If you are planning a vacation near a beach or lake and your children are not strong swimmers, borrow, rent or purchase proper-fitting life jackets. Do not use “air filled swimming aids” as a substitute, they should be Coast Guard approved. Children need to stay within arm’s reach while in open water. If you need to take a bathroom or snack break, bring your youth with you. Many accidents occur in less than five minutes from being in the care of one or both parents.
Teach your children to swim after age 4 but remember that teaching your child to swim does NOT mean they are safe in water. They should take refresher courses each year prior to the beginning of the swimming season. Remind youngsters not to dive into water less than nine feet deep and try to frequent pools that have life guards. An adult who knows CPR should actively supervise the children and if you expect to be near water a great deal this summer, consider learning CPR. It is fun to swim and splash around but everyone should strive to take time out of the water each hour. Notice the location of rescue equipment and phones in the event of an emergency and most importantly, never leave your loved ones alone while they are in the water.
Bicycle safety. Whether mountain biking or taking a ride around the block, cycling should be 100% enjoyable. According to NHTSA, in 2007, 44,000 cyclists were injured and 698 killed in traffic crashes. When you hit the road, you should cycle as though you are invisible to every driver out there. They need to see you, make eye contact and recognize that you are following the rules of the road. You never know what might be coming your way so it is important to scan your environment and keep both hands on the brake at all times. It may be tempting to bring along your MP3 player but don’t, wear your helmet and never wear headphones while riding your bike. Try to pick streets that are not busy, use back roads and roads with wider lanes. If it’s night time, it’s light time. Adjust your headlight to meet your needs and wear reflective clothing each time you ride. It’s also important to buy a horn and mirror, use them to avoid collisions. “Going with the flow” means riding with the traffic, always obeying road signs and never weaving in between cars. Lastly, bicycle safety includes checking your properly inflated tires and other equipment is in good order. Staying alert, maintaining your bike and watching for road hazards will keep you safe.
Until next time, have fun and stay safe Warren County! If you would like more information about any of the above, please call 252-257-3640 or email Rachel_Monteverdi@ncsu.edu. Rachel Monteverdi is the Family & Consumer Sciences Agent for Warren County Cooperative Extension, a division of North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University.