Is there anything more inviting on a hot summer day than a sparkling pool or spraying ocean? Swimming is a good way to stay cool, get some low-impact exercise and enjoy the summer season, whether you're hitting up the local beach, pool or lake. But, as with any physical activity, it requires some basic safety precautions and can certainly result in injury.
"Obviously, brain injury by drowning is our utmost concern," says Dr. Julie Gilchrist, a pediatrician and medical epidemiologist at the CDC Injury Center, of the average 3,800 people who die from a drowning incident and 5,800 who suffer devastating brain injury, such as memory problems, learning disabilities and even a vegetative state, as a result. "It's so preventable and unfortunately, hospital care doesn't alter the outcome. There's not a lot we're able to do for brain injury. That's why prevention is so so important."
Gilchrist recommends early swimming lessons so that children and adults alike have this important skill. Additionally, for children, supervision in all swim areas is essential. And, when a pool is not in use, make sure there are barriers to access: gates around pools, locks on doors and even alarms.
For adults, drownings are much more common on natural bodies of water rather than pools. And men are far more likely to drown than women. In fact, 80 percent of all drowning deaths occur in boys and men. That's likely because they're more apt to take on risky activities, according to Gilchrist, and are also far more likely to swim under the influence of alcohol and overestimate their swimming endurance and abilities.
But beyond drowning, there are a number of health complaints that can result in a day spent in the emergency room, rather than the water -- and misconceptions surrounding what causes them. To make sure your summer swim experience is nothing but good and good for you, we've compiled answers to some other common questions. Have fun!