Swimming Fact or Fiction

Our entire lives we've been reminded about pool safety but is it all true?

You must wait 30-60 minutes after eating before swimming.
FICTION: There is no real danger in swimming after eating. The myth says that blood rushes to the digestive tract after eating, decreasing your capability to swim. While blood does flow to aid digestion, this does not have any effect on your ability to swim. The biggest danger you face is the risk of minor cramp that can be experiences when you engage in any physical activity after eating a large meal. There is no way I would want to go for a run or swim laps after I fill up on my favorite endless soup, salad, and breadsticks. However, if I did, I would not be in any danger.
You don’t need sunscreen while in the water
FICTION: OF COURSE YOU NEED SUNSCREEN IN THE WATER. Just because you are in the water, doesn’t mean the water blocks all of the UV rays. Also, it is unlikely that your entire body is submerged the entire time. More importantly, when in the water you need to make sure you are reapplying sunscreen appropriately. While some sunscreens may claim to be “waterproof,” this is false advertising (and according to the FDA sunscreens aren’t even allowed to use that term anymore) and you still need to make sure you are reapplying frequently.
There is no danger in swimming while under the influence.
FICTION: This seems like common sense. However, with the Fourth of July celebrations upon us I know many of us will be jumping in the water. Likewise, many of us will also be enjoying some alcoholic beverages while celebrating the holiday. You must be conscientious when pairing alcohol with bodies of water.  While it can be lots of fun and I know pairing a cocktail with a float around the pool sounds great after a long work week, it is important to resist. Be safe and stay out of the water if you are under the influence. This increases the risk of drowning, especially what will be discussed in the last point.

It is okay to assume that a child is okay in or around water just because there are several adults around.
FICTION: This is often a horrible misconception that is made that results in drowning and near drowning experiences. Drowning doesn’t always look like it does in the movies with thrashing and splashing. It is often quite and can go unnoticed. Never assume that other adults will see an issue. The best way to prevent any type of drowning is being attentive. Always watch children when swimming, and the best way to watch children is to be in the water with them. If you are swimming with children, make sure you know your child’s swimming skill level, and take the proper safety measures. When children are old enough, teach them proper water safety, and practice proper safety yourself.
Drowning only occurs while IN the water.
FICTION: There are two types of drowning that can occur after you have left the water. There is a secondary drowning that occurs when a small amount of dirty water (usually from a lake, ocean, or river) enters the trachea and lungs and causes an infection. This can occur up to 72 hours after the incident. Dry drowning occurs when a person inhales water causing the vocal cords to spasm and close up, causing difficulty breathing. In this occurrence, water never enters the lungs. This usually occurs immediately after the incident, or within 24 hours. Both, if not detected and treated can lead to death.  While more common in children, these can occur in both children and adults. Typically, this will not happen if a tiny amount of water is swallowed and the individual is completely fine following the incident, as is a common occurrence for both adults and children when swimming. When any type of drowning or inhalation of water occurs the individual with most likely experience distress, and probably will not be completely okay following the incident. While secondary or “dry” drowning is extremely rare, it is good to note some warning signs. Difficulty breathing, excessive coughing, abnormal behavior, foaming in the mouth, chest pain, vomiting, extreme fatigue, or blue/pale skin are all concerning symptoms. You should absolutely contact a doctor if any of these occur at any time, and especially if inhalation of water as occurred within the past few days.
It’s always a good idea to take a CPR class so that you can help other if there is every a life-threatening incident. You can start by visiting the American Red Cross website or your local fire department to try to find a class that is convenient for you.   

Amanda grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, IL but is now enjoying living in Louisville, KY. She received her bachelors degree at Northern Illinois University where she acted as a resident advisor and mentor to fellow students. This was where she found her passion for wellness and helping others. She went on to study community health and receive her Masters of Education at the University of Louisville. During her studies, she focused her graduate research on programming for mental health and youth wellness. She also acts as an advocate for mental health and suicide prevention. She has always enjoyed using her voice and knowledge to educate and advocate about important health topics. Amanda spends much of her time employed as a nanny for three wonderful children.

When she is not busy promoting health education or chasing around the kids, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, playing with her Pomeranian, Sulley, or indulging in a great book. Amanda thrives on helping to educate others about important health issues and effective health related behaviors so they can live happier and healthier lives!