Water safety, not at the pool
As we embark on No. 4 in our series of water-safety articles, we look at swimming safely in lakes, streams, rivers and the ocean.
Water and weather preparedness:
- Plan your trip by getting the forecast and knowing where you’ll be enjoying your waterborne activities. Approved swim area? Lifeguards on duty?
Keep an eye out for:
- Unexpected changes in air or water temperature.
- Fast-moving currents, waves and rapids, even in shallow water.
- Hazards such as dams, rocks, debris floating on top of the water or on the bottom. Never dive head first into an unknown body of water.
- Aquatic life and underwater vegetation.
- Sudden drop off, ledge or change in water depth.
- Other people around you including boats.
Water safety at the waterfront:
- Ensure everyone knows how to swim. Tragically, the news has reported that non-swimmers have gotten into the water and in trouble already this season.
- Swim in designated areas with lifeguards.
- Keep children under constant supervision. Do not get distracted. A one-minute text message could mean the difference between a good day at the lake and a family tragedy.
- Use U.S. Coast Guard-approved flotation devices for non-swimmers or weak swimmers. Do not depend on water wings or inflatable toys.
- Always swim with a buddy. (The Boy Scouts have used this system for over 75 years and it works!)
If someone is missing:
- Check the water first. Every second counts.
- Alert the on-duty lifeguard.
- Don’t wait. Have someone call 9-1-1.
If someone is in trouble in the water:
- Use the reach-throw method. Reach with a pole or other long-handled device or throw a buoy or other inflated device.
- Only go in if you are a trained water rescue person/lifeguard or if you can stand up in the body of water with your head above the water line. A drowning victim will very often pull their rescuer under resulting in a double drowning.
- Anyone watching children who are in or around water must understand that drowning happens quickly and suddenly. Never take your eyes off of those you supervise, not even for a moment.
- Any source of water is a potential drowning hazard especially for young children and weak swimmers.
- It’s a known fact that people can drown in as little as three inches of water.
- Know how to respond to a swimmer in distress and get everyone to swimming lessons.
- Drowning is not limited to the pool, pond, lake or the ocean. It happened in bathtubs, hot tubs and even 5 gallon water pails.
For more information on water safety and drown prevention, go to: http://rdcrss.org/1UKMhLF or http://bit.ly/23rJLPt.