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SWARK Safety: Water

With it being the 4th of July weekend and being right in the middle of the summer, almost everyone is bound to visit some type of body of water, whether it be a lake, a river, or a public or private pool. With an average of 3,500 to 4,000 reported drownings per year, an average of 10 deaths a day, and drowning being a leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages 1-4, according to stopdrowningnow.org, it’s important to follow some safety tips when you go. Here are a few tips provided by The Red Cross:

Be Aware of Hazards & Weather

Being water competent in natural water requires additional knowledge and skills than in the pool. Whenever you are near a lake, river, stream or other natural water environment, watch and prepare for:

  • Unexpected changes in air or water temperature.
  • Thunder & lightning.
    • Leave the water immediately.
    • Stay inside an enclosed area for at least 30 minutes after the last thunder clap.
    • If outside, avoid open areas, tall, isolated trees and metal objects.1
  • Fast-moving currents, waves and rapids, even in shallow water.
  • Hazards, such as dams, underwater obstacles, or rocks and debris.
  • Vegetation, animals and fish.
  • Drop-offs that can unexpectedly change water depth.
  • Other people’s activities in the same waters, such as boating.
1 Source: National Weather Service

Establish and Enforce Rules and Safe Behaviors

  • Enter the water feet first for your safety!
    • Always enter unknown or shallow water cautiously.
    • Dive only in water clearly marked as safe for diving, at least 9 feet deep with no underwater obstacles. 
  • Do not enter the water from a height, such as a bridge or boat.
  • Be careful when standing to prevent being knocked over by currents or waves.
  • Swim sober.
  • Supervise others sober and without distractions, such as reading or talking on or using a cell phone.
  • Swim with a buddy.

Take These Water Safety Steps

  • Employ layers of protection including barriers to prevent access to water, life jackets, and close supervision of children to prevent drowning.
  • Ensure every member of your family learns to swim so they at least achieve skills of water competency: able to enter the water, get a breath, stay afloat, change position, swim a distance then get out of the water safely.
  • Know what to do in a water emergency – including how to help someone in trouble in the water safely, call for emergency help and CPR.”

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