Wilton fire chief: Now is the time for vigilance

Don’t let your guard down. We were recently notified that the lifeguards at Merwin Meadows are done for the season. We also know that people tend to swim illegally in the reservoir and the quarry. So first things first. Stay out of the reservoir and the quarry!

With unsupervised swimming areas like the Meadows, vigilance is more prevalent than ever. We know school is back in session and swimming is coming to a close whether at the Meadows, the beach or in your backyard pool, but if the warm weather prevails through the fall water activities will continue as well. Please review these water safety tips to ensure a safe, incident-free end to the summer season. We hope our series of tips and advice paid large dividends for you, your family and friends this summer. Safety first!     

  • Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone. Use the buddy system!

  • Take the long winter and ensure that everyone in the family learns to swim. Contact the Wilton Y for information.

  • Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water.

  • Even if you do not plan on swimming, be cautious around natural bodies of water including ocean shoreline, rivers and lakes. Cold temperatures, currents and underwater hazards can make a fall into these bodies of water dangerous.

  • If you go boating, wear a life jacket. Most boating fatalities occur from drowning.

  • Install and use barriers around your home pool or hot tub. Safety covers and pool alarms should be added as additional layers of protection.

  • Ensure that pool barriers enclose the entire pool area, are at least four feet high with gates that are self-closing, self-latching and open outward, and away from the pool. The latch should be high enough to be out of a small child’s reach.

  • Actively supervise kids whenever around the water — even if lifeguards are present. Do not just drop your kids off at the public pool or leave them at the beach — designate a responsible adult to supervise.

  • Always stay within arm’s reach of young children and avoid distractions when supervising children around water. A 20-second text message could be the difference between a tragedy and a fun day at the beach or pool.

  • Know how to spot a water emergency and be prepared to react. Call 9-1-1 right away even if you think someone is missing and may be in the water. Get emergency services rolling as soon as possible.

Remember: Block-Watch-Learn

  • Make sure gates are locked, back doors are secured and pool and hot tub covers are  secure. (Block).

  • 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. (Watch)

  • Any source of water is a potential drowning hazard especially for young children and weak swimmers. (Learn)

  • It’s a known fact that people can drown in as little as three inches of water. (Learn)

  • Know how to respond to a swimmer in distress and get everyone to swimming lessons. (Learn)

For more information on water safety and drown prevention, go to: http://rdcrss.org/1UKMhLF or http://bit.ly/23rJLPt.

Remember: Drowning is not limited to the pool, pond, lake or the ocean.