How to Promote Fun and Prevent Drowning

Your Summer Guide to Water Safety

Life

Summer has arrived! Cue the backyard BBQs, ice cream sandwiches (or DIY popsicles), and Will Smith jams. During long, hot days, water activities are basically a necessity for creating fun memories and staying cool. Unfortunately, water-related accidents are a leading cause of injury and death for young children (4). So to keep things fun this summer, let's talk about drowning prevention.

Drowning happens in seconds and often quietly (1,3). Permanent disability can result even when drowning isn't fatal (3), since any prolonged oxygen disruption injures our brains. Though it can happen to anyone, drowning is the second most common cause of death for 1-4 year olds (3). Almost 90% of these incidents occur in home pools and hot tubs5,6 (and anything that collects water, even buckets, poses a risk) (3). To keep the children in your life safe and cool, here are 5 water safety tips as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, CDC, National Safety Council, Pool Safely, and Red Cross.

1. Kids' water activities require close supervision at all times

Most drowning incidents occur unsupervised when adults briefly step away or become distracted (4). For this reason, children need vigilant supervision by a designated adult whenever they're around water (4). We can appreciate a relaxing poolside novel or margarita, but the responsible adult/Water Watcher (7) needs to be completely free of alcohol impairment and any distractions (not even Insta). Consider water supervision to be like your greatest Netflix binge – your attention is totally focused, and you don't want to miss a thing. For young children the guiding principle is "touch supervision"– being within arm's reach at all times (3). 5-9 year olds are more likely to drown at public pools (4), so designate a supervising adult even when lifeguards are present (3).

2. Modest safety measures make a massive difference

Physical safety measures are imperative, especially when delightfully curious and unintentionally stealthy toddlers attempt to swim without you! Installing the right type of fence can reduce drowning risk by over 80% – 4-sided pool fences (completely isolating the pool) are far more effective than 3-sided property line fences (3). The safest fences measure at least 4 feet high, prevent climbing, and have self-latching, self-closing gates (3,7). Door alarms and rigid pool covers are also preventive, though their effectiveness is less studied (1). Always check that the pool you use has intact anti-entrapment drain covers (mandated by federal law) to prevent suction-related accidents (7). For portable pools, check out this specific safety guidance.

3. Life jackets are way better than floaties

Sadly those super cute floaty wings aren't designed for safety, according to the CDC, and should not replace life jackets (3) (on the upside, this means less flimsy plastic!). Young children and inexperienced swimmers should wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacketwhenever near water (1,9). And, regardless of swimming ability, all children need USCG-approved life jackets if playing around lakes or the ocean (2). Life jackets are only effective if they fit well, so check the weight and size limits before using (9). Remember that nothing replaces close supervision! (To help start your life jacket search, we tracked down a more eco-friendly option.)

4. Teach children swimming and water safety

Learning to swim is crucial for water safety. We all benefit from learning how to swim, and swimming lessons can prevent drowning in 1-4 year olds (3). It's never too early (or too late!) to learn – YMCA and community centers often provide affordable lessons for all ages. (We get that communal activities are probably not your jam with the current Covid-19 situation, but, at some point, formal swim lessons could be a fun family activity.) Knowing how to swim does not make us "drown proof" though, so we still need to exercise caution with kids of any swimming ability (1). Teaching children not to climb over pool fences, swim without an adult, or play near pool drains is also crucial for preventing drowning incidents (7).

5. Assess surroundings and swimming ability

Being aware of location-specific water dangers and knowing a swimmer's ability can help discern which activities are safe. Every water activity presents an assortment of fun and risk. Case in point: sprinklers are a simple joy but also an understated toe hazard (been there…). Oceans, rivers, and lakes offer wilder adventure yet can even prove dangerous for expert swimmers – rip currents are an infamous threat in oceans, and lakes and rivers can have undertows (6). Older children and adolescents are more likely to drown in these natural bodies of water (3). Since alcohol can impair your ability to assess surroundings and react appropriately, avoid drinking while swimming or supervising others (7).

Prevention first, but CPR can still save lives

We hope you'll never ever need to use CPR...ever. Prevention with the above measures can massively reduce drowning risk for everyone, but CPR is invaluable during a drowning incident and can improve the likelihood of the drowning victim's survival (3). The American Heart Association provides in-person Family and Friends CPR courses, as well as socially distanced, at-home instruction with Family and Friends CPR DVD or Adult/Child CPR training kits (includes a training manikin and DVD – fun for the whole family!).

With safe water play, we know your summer days will be full of adventure and excitement. Have fun!


References

1. https://www.aappublications.org/news/2019/03/15/drowning031519

2. https://www.cdc.gov/safechild/drowning/

3. https://www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Water-Safety/waterinjuries-factsheet.html

4. https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/2020-Submersion-Report-4-29-20.pdf

5. https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/pdfs/blk_media_SafetyBarrierGuidelinesResPools.pdf

6. https://www.nsc.org/home-safety/tools-resources/seasonal-safety/drowning

7. https://www.poolsafely.gov/parents/safety-tips/

8.https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/water-safety/drowning-prevention-and-facts.html

9.https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/water-safety/swim-safety.html

Life

What is Occupational Health & Safety?

The oft forgotten team...until something bad happens.

We spend approximately one-quarter of our lives at work. And when you spend a lot of time at your workplace, it's important you feel safe. That's where occupational health comes in. Occupational health is the part of public health that works to prevent illnesses and injuries in the workplace. Whether you're an office worker looking at a computer the whole day, a nurse dealing with unruly patients, or a construction worker completing dangerous tasks, occupational health works to protect everyone. Read on to find out more about occupational health, your rights at work, and ways to keep yourself safe.

Why Occupational Health Matters

Although we spend a ton of time at work, we don't often believe that we could get sick or injured on the job. Maybe if you work in a factory using heavy machinery the risk is more obvious, but most of the time work feels safe. But almost every job, even desk jobs, have occupational health concerns. An angry customer or co-worker is just as valid of an occupational health concern as extreme heat from working outside as a landscaper.

It's really important that occupational health be placed at the forefront of an employer's priorities because there are many ways work can impact your health. Of course unsafe work environments can lead to serious injury or death, but a workplace can also lead to less-obvious health issues. Mental health may suffer from a bad work environment or challenging work-life balance. Now with the coronavirus pandemic, working from home poses additional mental health challenges, since many are likely to feel confined to one space and experience undue stress or may feel isolated from their coworkers. Additionally, some folks do not have well-designed workspaces and can lead to eye strain and lower-back pain amongst other symptoms. Other common injuries could occur from poor safety culture in which an employer does not properly train you to operate hazardous equipment such as an espresso machine.

How Does Occupational Health Keep Workers Safe?

Occupational health standards and safety protections are often developed in response to historical events we as a society have learned from. Biohazard containers for needles were developed to prevent accidental injections of biological hazards to nurses, sanitarians, and other healthcare professionals. Previously, these could be stored in bags which would occasionally tear or be punctured by needles, inadvertently injecting workers in hospitals and other healthcare settings. The skull and crossbones or danger symbol on hazardous chemicals is used to alert users about dangerous chemicals that can cause you harm. Cooling vests were created for outdoor workers in hot environments so they can stay cool throughout their shifts.

Although our mental and well-being may not be thought of from a more traditional occupational health perspective, we know that our jobs and our personal life can be intertwined and sometimes difficult to compartmentalize. As a result, taking care of ourselves can impact our performance and interactions at work. Research shows that an employee's mental health is a crucial determinant of their workplace performance. Stress from work can cause physical illnesses like "hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular conditions" (1).

Occupational Health During the Coronavirus Pandemic

With COVID-19 impacting workers, occupational health is proving to be a critical area of focus to combat a pervasive virus. Both national and state branches of OSHA have provided guidelines to follow during the pandemic (2). Oregon's occupational health department, for example, is requiring all companies to follow COVID-19 guidelines like physical distancing, mask wearing, and limiting the number of people in a carpool (3). If businesses don't comply with these rules, states can issue fines or citations. CAL OSHA fined businesses upwards of twenty thousand dollars for not protecting their workers during the pandemic (4). Many businesses have gone above and beyond regulations to try to make their employees as safe as possible by increasing air flow in buildings to reduce viral counts in indoor environments, wearing gloves when working with clients or customers in the service industry, and wearing masks while at work and in public.

What You Can Do and Resources to Learn More

It is important we all take a community-based approach in protecting each other's health by ensuring our employers are complying with OSHA and CDC recommendations and requirements. By advocating for your rights as an employee, you are fighting to protect public health. Some ways to get involved and stay proactive with your health at work is by asking a few of these questions:

  • What has my employer done to help combat COVID-19 transmission at work?
  • Where is the written Respiratory Protection Plan and is it up to date?
  • What accommodations are provided if you are not able to wear a respirator for medical or health reasons?
  • What training is provided by my employer for occupational health and safety, and when was it last updated?

This is not an inclusive list, but it is a starting point to help you think of what your employer can, has, and should do to protect your health. Also, it is important that you know your rights as an employee and advocate via the whistleblower program if your employer is unwilling to listen. This program protects you from any retaliation your employer may try to evoke as a result. Also, getting involved with your local union (if you belong to one) or a work-related association can greatly increase your power. And of course, wear a mask (if you are not recommended to wear a respirator). It's not fool-proof, but it's one of the last lines of defense for you and your co-workers on the job. We, as a community, must be proactive to save lives during the current pandemic.

To learn more about occupational health and safety, check out these additional sites:

ASSP - American Society of Safety Professionals

COSH - National Council for Occupational Safety & Health - Non-profit advocating for occupational health and safety

NIOSH - National Institution of Occupational Health & Safety - good site for occupational health psychology as well!

NSC - National Safety Council

OSHA - Occupational Safety & Health Administration - COVID-19

If you believe working conditions are unsafe or unhealthy, you may file a confidential complaint with OSHA and ask for an inspection. If possible, tell your employer about your concerns. There are many ways to file a complaint, including by calling 800-321-OSHA or filing an online complaint, as well as other methods including in person. Information is available on OSHA's website at https://www.osha.gov/workers/file-complaint.

If you believe you have been retaliated against in any way, file a whistleblower complaint within 30 days of the alleged retaliation. There are several ways to do that and each is detailed on OSHA's website at https://www.whistleblowers.gov/complaint_page.



References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3062016/
  2. https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/standards.html
  3. https://osha.oregon.gov/rules/advisory/infectiousdisease/Documents/Oregon-OSHA-Draft-Temporary-COVID-19-Rule-Sept-25-2020.pdf
  4. https://ohsonline.com/articles/2020/10/05/cal-osha-fines-los-angeles-grocery-stores-for-coronavirus-violations.aspx
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Life

Why You Might Want to go Organic for Marijuana

Here's what you need to know before your next smoke or special weed treat

With all the chill that marijuana is associated with, we hate to harsh your buzz, but you might not be getting exactly what you think when you pick up a joint or gummy. Because of the lack of regulation on marijuana, there is no governmental body watching what growers are putting on their pot - including the type and amount of pesticides. Yes, believe it or not, marijuana has its fair share of pesticides. Whether it's for recreational or medicinal use, the next time you reach for a smoke or some special treats, consider going organic.

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