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The University of Alabama

UA Matters: Staying Safe in the Water

Dr. Brian Gannon

Dr. Brian Gannon

As the summer heats up, many like to cool down by taking a swim. Before jumping into those cool waters, check out these water safety tips from The University of Alabama’s Dr. Brian Gannon.

  • Never leave children unattended around water. Make sure there is always supervision from an adult who knows how to swim.
  • Avoid inflatable swimming aids such as “floaties.” They are not a substitute for approved life vests and can give children and parents a false sense of security.
  • When on boats or near bodies of water, children should always wear life jackets. Make sure the life jacket is the right size for the child; the jacket should not be loose and should always be worn as instructed with all straps securely belted.
  • You probably remember being told not to go into the water too soon after eating. The reality is that when you are digesting food, there is less blood flow in the body, which can diminish your strength and make it hard to swim. The best bet is to wait half an hour after eating before getting back into the water.
  • Do not chew gum while you could swim because you could choke.
  • Swimmer’s ear is an inflammation or infection of the ear canal. The condition is called swimmer’s ear because it commonly occurs in people who have been swimming, when water or sand irritates the skin of the ear canal. Swimmer’s ear can be painful; other symptoms including itching, a feeling of fullness in the ear or a discharge of fluid from the ear. If you think you have swimmer’s ear, contact your doctor about the best way to treat it.
  • When outdoors and in the water, wear a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen. Do not forget to apply sunscreen to feet, ears and lips, and it should be reapplied every two hours. Sunscreens should be up to SPF 50 and protect against both UVA and UVB rays.

Gannon is an assistant professor in the department of pediatrics at the College of Community Health Sciences.uamatters_logo 2

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UA Matters is a weekly posting that offers information and tips on consumer issues facing Alabamians. The information is available to reprint in your publication free of charge. Also, access to subject matter experts is available upon request. For more information, contact Kim Eaton at 205/348-8325 or>.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.