ADA — Summer is just around the corner, time to start planning for some fun and adventure. With so many things to do during the summer and only a few short months to do it — it’s a good idea to sit down and come up with a summer family fun plan.

How should you start your family’s fun plan? Are you preparing for Saturday pool parties or picnics at a local lake or pond? Whatever your plan includes, remember, the most important part of any plan is safety.

“We all want a summer to remember but those memories shouldn’t include tragedy,” said Pontotoc County chapter of the American Red Cross spokesperson Geneva Howard. “Most drowning fatalities and accidents can be prevented if we learn to combine safety with fun.”

Following these simple rules can help you make the most out of your plans:

• Learn to swim and swim well. One of the best things anyone can do to stay safe in and around the water is learn to swim. No one, including adults, should ever swim alone.

• Never leave a child unattended near water. Because it only takes a second for a small child to fall into a pool or to be pulled into the water by a wave, adult supervision is always required when children are near water. Adults should practice “reach supervision” which means to be within arm’s length of a child in case an emergency occurs.

• Be equipped before entering the water. Always keep basic lifesaving equipment by residential pools and know how to use it. A first aid kit, cordless phone, phone list with emergency contact information, a reaching pole and a ring buoy with a nylon line attached are recommended.

• Know when you’ve had too much. If you, or someone you are swimming with, appears to be too cold, too far from safety, been exposed to too much sun, or had too much strenuous activity, it is time to head for shore or signal for help.

• Eliminate temptation. Surround a backyard pool with a fence at least four feet high on all sides. To prevent a child from gaining access to the water, Red Cross recommends that the fence have a self-closing, self-latching gate that remains locked when the pool is not being used. The safest fence will have vertical bars with spacing small enough that children cannot slip through them. Consider installing pool alarms and underwater motion detectors, which can offer an extra layer of protection when used correctly. Empty kiddie pools immediately after use and remove water toys that can draw children to the pool.

• Know what you’re getting into. Open bodies of water have many different currents, some can be dangerous. Never swim in an area that does not have a lifeguard. Check with local officials to see what types of currents are most common in the area you plan to swim. Learn how to spot a dangerous current and what to do if you’re caught in one.

• Take your plan to the park. Don’t let your guard down at water parks, drowning is possible in only a few feet of water. Follow all posted instructions and always slide feet first unless directed otherwise by the ride operator. On speed slides, be sure legs are crossed to prevent injuries.

• Learn first aid and CPR/AED skills. Families must insist that babysitters, grandparents and anyone else who cares for their children learn first aid and lifesaving CPR. Keep CPR instructions posted in plain sight, along with the local emergency number. Always have a cordless or cell phone handy.

Phone (580) 332-2402 or 332-3562 to sign up for the Kiwanis Swim Safe Program that teaches your American Red Cross Learn to Swim programs (infant through adult) and to register for First Aid and CPR/AED courses. Visit for additional safety tips.

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