The Healing Power Of Water: Enjoying Water Activities Safely by Chrissy Stamegna
Posted on August 1, 2023
Water has long been recognized for its therapeutic qualities and its ability to promote physical and emotional healing. For brain injury survivors, disabled individuals, and their caregivers, water activities offer a unique and enjoyable way to experience the healing benefits of water. Whether it's swimming, water aerobics, or simply relaxing by the water's edge, embracing water activities can provide a sense of freedom, rejuvenation, and well-being. However, it's essential to prioritize safety to ensure a positive and risk-free experience. Here's how to enjoy water activities safely:
- Know Your Abilities: Before engaging in water activities, assess your own abilities and limitations. Be honest with yourself about your swimming skills and physical abilities. If you have any specific medical concerns or restrictions, consult with your healthcare provider to ensure water activities are appropriate for your condition.
- Choose Safe Water Environments: Opt for water activities in safe and controlled environments. Public pools with lifeguards on duty, designated swimming areas at beaches, or community centers with accessible water facilities are ideal choices. Avoid swimming in open water with strong currents or uncertain conditions.
- Buddy System: Whenever possible, participate in water activities with a buddy or support person. Having someone by your side enhances safety and provides assistance if needed. This is especially important for individuals with mobility challenges or cognitive disabilities.
- Use Appropriate Floatation Devices: If you're not a confident swimmer or require additional support, wear appropriate floatation devices like life jackets or swim vests. Ensure that the device fits properly and is Coast Guard-approved for maximum safety.
- Stay Hydrated: Water activities can be physically demanding, leading to increased water loss through perspiration. Stay hydrated by drinking water regularly, especially during hot weather. Dehydration can lead to fatigue and increase the risk of accidents.
- Follow Pool Rules: If using a pool, adhere to pool rules and guidelines. Avoid running on wet surfaces to prevent slips and falls. Be aware of pool depths and dive only in designated areas. Never leave children or vulnerable individuals unattended near water.
- Adapt Activities for Abilities: Modify water activities to suit individual abilities and comfort levels. Water aerobics, aquatic therapy, or floating on a pool noodle can offer low-impact alternatives for those with mobility challenges or joint issues.
- Be Sun-Smart: Protect yourself from the sun's harmful rays by wearing sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat, and UV-protective clothing. Limit sun exposure during peak hours (usually between 10 am and 4 pm) and take breaks in shaded areas.
- Be Mindful of Water Temperatures: Be aware of water temperatures, especially in natural bodies of water. Cold water can lead to rapid cooling of the body, causing hypothermia or muscle cramps. Gradually ease into the water to acclimate to the temperature.
- Learn Water Rescue Techniques: If you'll be near open water or unsupervised areas, learn basic water rescue techniques or have someone present who is trained in water safety and rescue. Knowing how to respond in emergency situations can save lives.
- Choose Accessible Facilities: Seek out water facilities that are accessible and inclusive. Look for pools or beaches with ramps or lifts to facilitate entry into the water for individuals with mobility challenges. Accessible changing rooms and showers are also important for a positive experience.
- Engage in Water Therapy: Consider water therapy as an option for individuals with cognitive or physical challenges. Water therapy, such as hydrotherapy or aquatic exercise, can aid in muscle relaxation, balance improvement, and overall well-being.
- Monitor Weather Conditions: Keep an eye on weather conditions before and during water activities. Avoid water activities during thunderstorms or if there are strong winds or high waves.
- Respect Water Hazards: Be cautious of underwater hazards, such as rocks, branches, or uneven surfaces. If swimming in the sea, watch out for rip currents and observe warning signs.
- Have an Emergency Plan: Prepare an emergency plan that includes contact information for nearby medical facilities, lifeguards, or park rangers. Share the plan with your support network or travel companions.
The healing power of water can be transformational for individuals of all abilities. Water activities offer a chance to embrace the freedom of movement, the calming effect of water, and the joy of shared experiences with loved ones. By prioritizing safety and taking necessary precautions, you can fully enjoy the therapeutic benefits of water activities while minimizing potential risks. Whether it's floating in a pool, splashing in the ocean, or partaking in water therapy, let the healing power of water envelop you in a sense of serenity, joy, and rejuvenation.