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Water safety tips from experts for families and caregivers as drowning deaths increase

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Water safety tips from experts for families and caregivers as drowning deaths increase

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As summer gets underway, a recent report sheds light on the importance of swimming and water safety strategies. 

Each year, some 4,000 unintentional drowning deaths occur in the U.S., with the highest rates among children between 1 and 4 years of age, according to a report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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Drowning is the leading cause of death among children age 4 and under, and it is one of the three leading causes of death due to unintentional injury among those aged 5 to 34, the report said.

DROWNING PREVENTION: KEEP KIDS SAFE IN AND NEAR THE WATER WITH THESE TIPS

“With drownings on the rise across the U.S., especially among young children, it is more critical than ever to ensure that water safety is always top of mind,” Megan Ferraro, executive director of The ZAC Foundation.

It’s a Connecticut-based organization that develops educational programming and resources for swimmers of all ages and abilities, she wrote in an email to Fox News Digital.

Each year, some 4,000 unintentional drowning deaths occur in the U.S., with the highest rates among children between 1 and 4 years of age. (iStock)

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The number of unintentional drowning deaths has risen in the years since the COVID pandemic, the report revealed.

Between 2020 and 2022, the increased drowning rates may have been caused by infrastructure disruptions, limited access to supervised swimming venues, and individuals spending more time in or near water, said the CDC.

BEACH SAFETY TIPS: WHAT TO DO IN A RIP CURRENT AND HOW TO STAY SAFE NEAR THE WATER

Despite these risks, more than half of U.S. adults have never taken a swimming lesson.

Heading into the thick of beach and pool season, several swim and water officials shared these eight water safety measures to prevent tragic drownings.

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1. Choose swimsuit colors carefully

Some swim instructors suggest dressing children in bright-colored bathing suits and avoiding colors that blend with the surrounding water.

Child bright swimsuit

Some swim instructors suggest dressing children in bright-colored bathing suits and avoiding colors that blend with the surrounding water. (iStock)

Nikki Scarnati, a certified infant swimming resource instructor in Florida, used her TikTok platform to warn parents to avoid buying blue or pastel-colored bathing suits, which can make it difficult to spot children in the water

In her 2023 social media post, she demonstrated how it was easier to see bright colors, such as red, in splashing water.

2. Don’t skip the swim lessons

Water safety instructors recommend enrolling children at an early age in swim lessons through local organizations. 

“Studies have shown that swim lessons reduce childhood drowning by 88%,” Ferraro noted.

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Many organizations, like the American Red Cross, offer swim classes to help individuals become more comfortable in the water and learn to become stronger, safer swimmers.

“Studies have shown that swim lessons reduce childhood drowning by 88%.”

Experts also suggest taking added precautions, such as installing alarms and gates, to prevent children from wandering into pool areas unsupervised.

3. Be aware of high-risk children

“Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for children with autism,” Lindsay Naeder, the Philadelphia-based vice president of community impact for Autism Speaks, told Fox News Digital.

Swim lessons

Water safety instructors recommend enrolling children at an early age in swim lessons through local organizations.  (iStock)

Naeder emphasized the importance of educating beach and pool lifeguards about how to recognize signs of distress in swimmers with autism.

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“You can work with lifeguards to understand the different behaviors of autism and how to best communicate with an autistic individual, especially during an unsafe situation,” Naeder said via email to Fox News Digital.

4. Install safeguards for older swimmers

When caring for adults with dementia, installing gates and pool alarms can prevent dangerous situations in the event that the individual gets confused and wanders, some experts told Fox News Digital. 

“Caregivers of elderly adults with dementia need to identify potentially dangerous areas near their homes, such as pools and all bodies of water,” Ferraro told Fox News Digital.

BE WELL: RECOGNIZE THE WARNING SIGNS OF ‘DRY DROWNING’ AND TAKE QUICK ACTION

She recommended choosing an alarm that beeps if a door to the pool is opened or if the surface of the water is disrupted by movement.

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“Make sure a senior with dementia never swims alone,” she added. “A swim buddy or guardian should always be close by.”

5. Know the ABCDEs 

Parents and caregivers must use multiple layers of protection when it comes to keeping families safe in and around water, Ferraro told Fox News Digital.

Pool gate

Installing locking fences and other barriers around water is an essential component of pool safety, experts say. (iStock)

“This means following the ABCDEs of water safety: A is for Adult supervision, B is for Barriers around water, C is for swim Classes, D is for avoiding Drain entrapment and using Devices such as Coast Guard-approved lifejackets, and E is for Everywhere — because water is all around us,” she said.

6. Remain vigilant while in large groups

As pool party season gets underway, it is important to remain vigilant.

“In large groups, like a pool party, everyone assumes someone else is watching the children in the pool — this is known as the diffusion of responsibility,” Ferraro warned.

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“Don’t ever assume someone else is watching your kids around the water.”

“Don’t ever assume someone else is watching your kids around the water, because this can have deadly consequences.”

Parents should ensure that children are swimming in lifeguard-designated areas — and it is important to provide close, constant supervision even if lifeguards are present, Ferraro noted.

Swimming kids

Parents should ensure that children are swimming in lifeguard-designated areas, and it is important to provide close, constant supervision even if lifeguards are present. (iStock)

“Designate an adult ‘water watcher’ whose sole responsibility is to keep a watchful eye on those in the water at all times,” she recommended. 

“Never leave a child unattended in or near the water, not even for a second. Make sure children are within arm’s length of an adult at all times when at the pool or beach.”

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7. Ensure pets’ safety

It is also important to protect your pets’ safety in the water, noted Ferrara with The ZAC Foundation.

                                                                                               

“Always keep your eyes on your pet around water, and never leave them unattended,” she said. “Be aware that not all dog breeds are natural swimmers.”

8. Be mindful of water differences

Swimming in open water is different from swimming in a pool, experts warn.

“If you swim well in a backyard pool, that does not mean you can swim well in the ocean,” George Gorman Jr., regional director of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, told Fox News Digital. 

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Swimming ocean

Swimming in open water is different from swimming in a pool, experts warn. (iStock)

“You need to stay close to shore, and gain experience.”

Gorman, who oversees many of the ocean areas along the shores of Long Island, New York, also warned people to be mindful of rip currents that may occur in ocean waters

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“If you are caught in a rip current, do not fight against it,” he advised. “Instead, swim parallel to the shore until you notice the current diminishing and you are out of it.” 

He also recommended swimming with a buddy, and maintaining a distance of around 25 feet if a rip current is encountered.  

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A lifeguard looks out at people swimming

A lifeguard looks out at people swimming in the Atlantic Ocean on a beach at the Jersey Shore on June 27, 2020, in Middletown, New Jersey. An expert warned people to be mindful of rip currents that may occur in ocean waters.  (Gary Hershorn/Getty Images)

“This way, your buddy has time to react and escape to get help.”

To avoid an unwelcome encounter with certain marine life, such as sharks, Gorman said to avoid murky water and to look for signs that a larger fish may be in the vicinity.

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“If you see splashing fish or diving seabirds, that usually means there are smaller fish in that area — therefore, larger fish may be headed there to feed on those smaller fish,” Gorman said. 

It’s also wise to avoid areas where larger fish, such as seals or dolphins, have been spotted.

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Ask a doctor: ‘Is it safe to swim underwater with my eyes open?’

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Ask a doctor: ‘Is it safe to swim underwater with my eyes open?’

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Hot summer days include plenty of pool or beach time for many people — but it’s important to stay safe while swimming.

While it may be tempting to open your eyes underwater, experts warn that prolonged exposure could put your vision at risk.

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Fox News Digital spoke with Brian Boxer Wachler, M.D., an ophthalmologist in Beverly Hills, California, who is also a medical reviewer with All About Vision, an online resource, about what happens when people take a peek while swimming.

ASK A DOCTOR: ‘WHY ARE MY EYES OFTEN BLOODSHOT?’

A quick glance likely won’t be harmful, the expert said — but extended periods of underwater peeping could cause problems.

“Usually when people open their eyes underwater, the [eyes] begin to feel irritated and they will close their eyes pretty quickly,” Wachler said. 

It may be tempting to open your eyes underwater, but experts warn that prolonged exposure could put your vision at risk. (iStock)

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When swimming in pool water, the chlorine can irritate the eyes, he warned.

Chlorine can cause damage to the outer layer cells that protect the cornea, Dr. Muriel Schornack, a Mayo Clinic optometrist in Minnesota, stated on the clinic’s website.

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As a result, the eye may become red, irritated or sensitive to light, the doctor warned. 

You may also notice blurred vision.

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Man swimming underwater

Swimming in saltwater or untreated freshwater can potentially introduce bacteria into the eyes, a doctor said. (iStock)

“A lot of folks who are highly nearsighted or highly farsighted like to wear their contact lenses while they’re swimming — and if chlorine soaks into those lenses, now you’ve got a reservoir of chlorine on the surface of the eye that’s likely to do damage,” Schornack noted on Mayo Clinic’s site.

ASK A DOCTOR: ‘WHY AM I HEARING MY HEARTBEAT IN MY EARS?’

With saltwater or untreated freshwater, the effects can be even harsher, and can potentially introduce bacteria into the eyes, Wachler warned.

blue eye contact lens

For people who wear contacts while swimming, chlorine can soak into the lenses and cause problems, a doctor said. (iStock)

“Microscopic organisms are found in various bodies of water, and can be both beneficial and harmful,” he said.

Bacteria such as E. coli can thrive in contaminated freshwater, while saltwater teems with decomposers like Vibrio, according to the ophthalmologist.

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“Viruses like those causing hepatitis A can linger in polluted water,” he said. 

“Protozoa such as Giardia can cause diarrhea if ingested from untreated sources, while molds like Aspergillus may be found in damp areas around freshwater.”

Signs that you should see a doctor

If you’ve been swimming with your eyes open for an extended period, watch out for signs of irritation like redness, itchiness and a burning sensation, Wachler advised. 

Woman swimming

For those who want to look underwater while swimming, experts recommend wearing goggles to protect the eyes.

“You might also experience watery eyes or increased sensitivity to light,” he said. 

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“These are usually temporary and go away on their own.”

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If you notice a thicker discharge, have trouble seeing or experience severe pain, it could be a sign of infection and warrants a trip to the doctor.

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For those who want to look underwater while swimming, experts recommend wearing goggles to protect the eyes.

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Follow these 9 safe hiking tips to prevent tragedy on the trail

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Follow these 9 safe hiking tips to prevent tragedy on the trail

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Recent hiking-related deaths have spotlighted the need for safety protocols.

While experts agree that hiking is considered a good form of exercise, they stress the importance of being prepared before heading out on the trail, especially during the hot summer months.

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Outdoor enthusiasts shared the following important tips to help prevent hiking hazards.

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1. Study the hiking area before your trip

Before heading out on a hike, familiarize yourself with maps, landmarks and any restricted areas or required permits, say trail experts.

Outdoor enthusiasts shared tips to help prevent trail hazards amid a flurry of recent hiking-related deaths this summer. (iStock)

“Research the terrain, trail difficulty, weather conditions and local wildlife,” Joey Coe, a trip leader for Backroads, a California-based travel touring company, told Fox News Digital. 

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Coe also suggested saving a photo of the trail map on your phone to reference while hiking.

Although cell phones and mapping apps can be helpful, it is important to have a backup paper map in the event of a lost signal, according to Guy deBrun, a lecturer at the Hart School of Hospitality, Sport & Recreation Management at James Madison University in Virginia. 

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“Knowledge of how to use a paper map is imperative,” deBrun, who is also an instructor in wilderness first aid, told Fox News Digital in an email.

Hikers should also know the difficulty level of the planned route, according to the American Hiking Society, a nonprofit based in Silver Springs, Maryland. 

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Snack on trail

Pack lightweight, high-energy foods such as nuts, dried fruit, energy bars and sandwiches, and avoid bringing perishable items unless you have proper storage, experts said regarding outdoor hikes. (iStock)

“It’s also helpful to identify possible emergency exit points,” Maggie Peikon, manager of communications with the American Hiking Society, told Fox News Digital via email. 

Online forums and trail reviews can also provide valuable information about the terrain, she added.

2. Set a ‘time plan’ for your hike

Whether you are setting off alone or with a group, let someone know your expected time frame for arriving at predetermined spots along the trail, experts recommend.

“Knowledge of how to use a paper map is imperative.”

One approach is to create a “time control plan,” which considers linear distance and elevation. 

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A general rule of thumb is to travel two miles per hour, adding one mile for every 1,000 feet of elevation gain. 

“Most novices fail to plan for elevation gain,” deBrun told Fox News Digital.  

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“One thousand feet of elevation gain adds one mile to your total mileage. So, if you are hiking five miles and gaining 2,000 feet, you [should] consider it seven miles. Divide by two miles an hour to estimate your time.”

It is also important to project the amount of daylight you will have during your excursion to avoid returning in the dark if you don’t have the necessary gear to hike at night.

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3. Know your limits

It’s best to start small and build, starting with short, easy, well-marked trails that match your fitness level, experts agreed.

“Take breaks as needed, and don’t push too hard,” said Coe. 

Peikon added, “If you’re feeling too tired, or realize you’re not going to make it to your destination within the time frame you prepared for, turn around and err on the side of caution.”

Map and compass

Before heading out on a hike, trail experts recommend familiarizing yourself with maps, landmarks, and any restricted areas or required permits. (iStock)

It’s also important to stay on the trail, she said.

“Avoid taking shortcuts. Getting off the trail for any reason can easily result in becoming directionally disoriented and getting lost.” 

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4. Maintain a safe distance when hiking

Aim to keep a distance of at least a few feet between hikers to avoid accidents and allow space for wildlife, experts advised. 

For people hiking in a group, it’s best to avoid taking up the whole trail width, according to the American Hiking Society.

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Hikers going downhill should yield to those going uphill.

Also, be wary of potential poisonous vegetation in that region so you can keep a safe distance and avoid accidental contact, experts cautioned.

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5. Prepare for weather conditions

Hikers should consider local weather patterns when deciding what to wear on a hike, experts told Fox News Digital.  

“In many mountainous areas, lightning storms regularly occur in the afternoon,” deBrun said. “Hikers should take this into account.”

Coe recommended dressing in layers to help adjust to changing temperatures. 

“Moisture-wicking, quick-drying materials are best,” he said.

Bear or bug spray

In areas where bears are prevalent, experts suggest packing bear spray to use in the event of an unexpected encounter.  (iStock)

Bring a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen and rain gear, experts advised.

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For family hiking trips, it’s important to be aware of children’s body temperature. “If you are carrying a child, he or she may be cold while you are burning up,” Peikon said. 

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“Conversely, you may feel chilled while your child is warm from running around and playing.”

If multiple children are on the hike, dress them in bright, visible clothing so you can more easily spot them, Peikon said.

6. Wear comfortable, supportive footwear

Multiple hiking trip leaders suggested wearing sturdy, well-fitted hiking boots with good ankle support. 

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“Break them in before your trip to avoid blisters,” Coe cautioned.

Kids hiking

If multiple children are on the hike, dress them in bright, visible clothing so you can more easily spot them, an expert said. (iStock)

Running shoes or trail runners can be appropriate, deBrun said, but hiking boots may be more appropriate in wet or rocky terrain.

7. Bring along essential equipment

Pack a compass or GPS, whistle, flashlight, a basic first aid kit and trekking poles (if needed), said experts.

Teach children to blow the whistle several times in the event they wander away from the group, they also advised. 

Pack a compass or GPS, whistle, flashlight, a basic first aid kit and trekking poles (if needed). 

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“Be aware of your group’s medical needs and any potential allergies,” Coe said. 

Hikers might also want to consider taking a wilderness first aid course, he added.

      

In areas where bears are prevalent, experts suggest packing bear spray to use in the event of an unexpected encounter. 

It’s also a good idea to check with local animal experts about how to navigate an encounter with wildlife.

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8. Stay fueled and hydrated

Pack lightweight, high-energy foods such as nuts, dried fruit, energy bars and sandwiches, and avoid bringing perishable items unless you have proper storage, experts said.

Couple on a hike

Aim to keep a distance of at least a few feet between hikers to avoid accidents and allow space for wildlife, experts advised.  (iStock)

It is also important to leave no trace of food behind. 

“Carry out all trash and leftover food to avoid attracting wildlife and to prevent littering,” Coe advised.

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Packing enough water is essential.

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“Bring at least half a liter of water for every hour you plan to be hiking,” Peikon said — even more when hiking in the heat.

Selfie hiking

Selfies can distract hikers from their surroundings, which can increase the risk of falls or cause them to miss a hazard, according to hiking experts.  (iStock)

Very few water sources are safe to drink without purification, deBrun cautioned.

“Research water sources and bring a water purification system for longer hikes,” he said.

9. Use caution with cellphones and selfies

Selfies can distract hikers from their surroundings, which can increase the risk of falls or cause them to miss a hazard, according to hiking experts. 

“It is always tragic to hear of fatalities due to selfies, which does happen every year in U.S. national parks,” Coe told Fox News Digital.  

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If you need to use your phone, stop walking and stay aware of your surroundings, he said.

“Use your phone only for emergency calls and navigation as needed,” Coe added.

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The Intermittent Fasting Diet: Is It All It’s Cracked Up to Be? | Woman's World

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The Intermittent Fasting Diet: Is It All It’s Cracked Up to Be? | Woman's World



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