Parents can contact their local pool, aquatic facility or park and recreation department and ask for Red Cross swim lessons.
ST. LOUIS — As the region celebrates the unofficial start of summer this Memorial Day weekend, the American Red Cross is promoting swimming safety with a campaign to reduce drownings and a new app that offers safety tips and helps families track children’s water readiness.
This year marks 100 years of Red Cross water safety education, and since then, the Red Cross has helped reduce accidental drownings by nearly 90 percent nationwide. Now the Red Cross is making a new sustained, multi-year push to teach more people to swim safely.
“As we gear up for trips to pools, beaches, rivers and lakes, we’re asking adults here in St. Louis and the surrounding communities to make water safety a priority this summer,” said Cindy Erickson, Regional CEO of the Red Cross. “Families need to make sure that both adults and children have the knowledge and skills they need to be safe in and around the water.”
A new national Red Cross survey shows people believe they are better swimmers than they actually are. While 80 percent of Americans said they can swim, only just over half of them can perform all five basic skills that could save their life in the water. Those are:
- Step or jump into the water over your head
- Return to the surface and float or tread water for one minute
- Turn around in a full circle and find an exit
- Swim 25 yards to the exit and exit from the water
- If in a pool, be able to exit without using the ladder
Red Cross Swim App
The newest American Red Cross mobile app – the Swim App – puts important, lifesaving information about water safety in the palm of your hand. The new app:
- Teaches users how to prevent a drowning; recognize someone in trouble and how to help get them to safety
- Breaks down safety tips for different environments, such as the beach, pool, lake and water parks
- Describes the importance of life jackets, and how to select and wear the right one for each activity
- Includes descriptions and videos of swimming strokes to help parents track their children’s progress
People can download the app for free in the Apple App Store, Google Play Store for Android or Amazon Kindle Store by searching for American Red Cross or by visiting the Red Cross web site.
The Swim App is not a substitute for learning how to swim. Parents can contact their local pool, aquatic facility or park and recreation department and ask for Red Cross swim lessons.
The Red Cross also offers additional water safety tips this time of year:
- Swim only in designated areas supervised by lifeguards. Always swim with a buddy, and 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 of children, and stay within arm’s reach of young children.
- 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.
Additional water safety tips are available at www.redcross.org/watersafety.
If your Memorial Day weekend plans include hitting the road or having a family get-together, the Red Cross offers these safety tips:
Drivers should be aware of their surroundings, use their seat belts, and follow traffic signs and rules such as speed limits. If anyone plans on drinking alcohol, they should have a designated driver who will not be drinking.
- Avoid distractions such as cell phones; do not text and drive.
- Use caution and follow all signs in work zones.
- Turn your headlights on as dusk approaches, or during inclement weather.
- Be respectful of other drivers and leave plenty of room when following other vehicles.
- Never grill indoors.
- 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 leave a grill unattended while in use, and make sure everyone else, including pets, stays away from the grill.
- Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.
- Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using grills.