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Water Safety and Teens

If children and teens are around bodies of water on a regular basis, it's important for parents to know cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). CPR can save lives, reduce the severity of injury, and improve the chance of survival. CPR training is available through the American Red Cross, the American Heart Association, and your local hospital or fire department.

Teens and water safety

Although older youth are more likely to know how to swim, they are still at risk for drowning. This is because of an overestimation of their skills, lack of awareness of water currents or water depth, and drinking alcohol or using drugs. To protect your teen from drowning, the American Academy of Pediatrics offers the following tips:

  • Insist that your teens always swim with a buddy.

  • Encourage your teen to take swimming, diving, and water safety or rescue classes to learn the skills to swim and dive safely. These classes may also prevent your teen from acting recklessly.

  • Teach your teen to never swim or dive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

  • Make sure your teen checks the depth of the water before diving.

A warning about diving

Diving accidents can result in permanent spinal cord injuries, brain damage, and death. Diving accidents may happen when a person:

  • Dives into shallow water.

  • Dives into above-ground pools, which are usually shallow.

  • Dives into the shallow end of a pool.

  • Springs upward from the diving board and hits the board on the way down.

A warning about personal flotation devices (PFD)

On boats, PFDs should be U.S. Coast Guard-approved. In fact, many states require the use of PFDs on all boats at all times. Don't rely on blow-up swimming devices, such as "water wings," rafts, and toys. They are not safe and won't prevent drowning.

It is important that the PFD is the correct size for your teen (life jackets are usually labeled "adult" or "child"). However, PFDs don't replace adult supervision.

According to the CDC, 90% of people who died in boating-related drownings were not wearing any kind of floatation device.

Online Medical Reviewer: Adler, Liora C., MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Freeborn, Donna, PhD, CNM, FNP
Date Last Reviewed: 5/1/2018
© 2000-2018 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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