Teens have fun on the water as the weather gets warmer and Memorial Day is often the first holiday where it is warm enough to enjoy a trip to the local lake. Though most of the outings are full of fun, it’s important to remember water safety.  Drowning is the second leading cause of death for people ages 1 to 14 years so as Memorial Day and warm summer months head our way, we’ve partnered with Dr. Linda Quan and Tizzy Bennett to talk about a few myths regarding teens and drowning.

Myth: It’s finally hot out and the water will be great.

Reality: Lakes take a lot longer in the season to warm up. Rivers stay very cold especially because in the spring the water is snow melt and the water is flowing fast so there’s no time for it to warm up.

Myth: The river looks calm.

Reality: Water speed is only really obvious where there are rocks, otherwise the surface conditions don’t show what’s going on. In the spring, river currents are fast, strong, and powerful. It is hard to even walk across inches of fast moving water without losing your footing.

Myth:  Our lakes are deep and I swam there last year so I can just Dive into it.

Reality: Underwater objects, like fallen logs, may be there.  Hitting one with your head or neck can lead to permanent spinal cord injury.  Be careful before diving and be sure to check out the water and the area.

Myth: If I can swim this far in a pool, I can swim this far in any kind of water.

Reality: Swimming in open water is very different than swimming in a pool. There are currents that you may be swimming against, the temperature can be a lot cooler, and if you get tired, there’s no edge of the pool to hang onto. People can get into trouble if they swim out into open water and then decide to turn around as well. Due to the current and colder temperature, your body has to use a lot of energy and a person can get so tired that they don’t have the energy or stamina to make it all the way back to shore.

Myth: Drinking and swimming go together. I can’t wait to have a party by the lake.

Reality: Alcohol increases drowning risk. Talk with your teen about parties they are invited to at rivers and lakes.  Drinking alcohol impairs judgement and a teen that would normally avoid the fast moving river may become uninhibited after drinking.

We’ve covered some of the common myths about swimming and water safety. Check out the Seattle Children’s website for more on drowning prevention (there’s even a 25% off coupon for life jackets!). As the weather gets warmer, go out and enjoy our beautiful lakes, rivers, and beaches, but talk with your teens about safety. Everyone on a boat or hanging out near moving water (like rivers) should wear a personal floatation device too. Model the behavior for your teens and kids. Even the best swimmers can get into trouble in open water.