Stay Safe on the Water

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL - Bud Owens is Di­rec­tor of Floyd Emer­gency Med­i­cal Ser­vices.

As tem­per­a­tures rise and the school year wraps up, more and more peo­ple put on their swim­suits, load up their skis and head to the creek, lake or river. It’s a great way to put the work week in the rear view mir­ror, but the one thing that should never be left be­hind is com­mon sense about lake safety.

The Amer­i­can Red Cross of­fers the fol­low­ing guide­lines to help you have a safe, fun sum­mer on the water.

When you are near open water, look out for:

♦Un­ex­pected changes in air or water tem­per­a­ture.

Fast-mov­ing cur­rents, waves and rapids, even in shal­low water.

♦Haz­ards, such as dams, un­der­wa­ter ob­sta­cles, or rocks or de­bris mov­ing on the sur­face or along the bot­tom of the water.

♦Aquatic life, such as veg­e­ta­tion that could en­tan­gle feet or an­i­mals that live in, on or around the water.

♦Sud­den drop-offs that change water depth.

Other peo­ple shar­ing the wa­ters, par­tic­u­larly other boaters.

Plan­ning ahead and stay­ing in­formed can help keep every­one in your group safe. Re­mem­ber to:

♦Be aware of the po­ten­tial haz­ards of the area you are vis­it­ing and take ap­pro­pri­ate pre­cau­tions.

♦Check water and weather con­di­tions be­fore your trip and fre­quently dur­ing your stay.

Watch for signs of se­vere weather and leave the water at the first in­di­ca­tion of thun­der and light­ning. In the event of an elec­tri­cal storm, stay in­side an en­closed area for at least 30 min­utes af­ter the last thun­der clap. If out­side, avoid open ar­eas, tall, iso­lated trees or metal ob­jects.

Know the abil­i­ties of those go­ing with you, in­clud­ing swim­ming abil­i­ties and level of su­per­vi­sion re­quired. Be sure to pro­vide ap­pro­pri­ate su­per­vi­sion.

♦En­sure that every­one in your fam­ily learns to swim well by en­rolling them in age-ap­pro­pri­ate learn-to-swim cour­ses.

Swim only in ar­eas that are des­ig­nated for swim­ming with buoys and ropes and are su­per­vised by life­guards.

♦Keep chil­dren un­der con­stant ac­tive su­per­vi­sion and re­main free from dis­trac­tions. En­sure that in­ex­pe­ri­enced swim­mers stay within arm’s reach.

Have weak swim­mers wear U.S. Coast Guard-ap­proved life jack­ets when­ever they are in, on or around water. Do not rely upon water wings or in­flat­able toys; they can en­able swim­mers to go beyond their abil­ity or sud­denly de­flate, which could lead to a drown­ing sit­u­a­tion. ♦Al­ways swim with a buddy. ♦Al­ways en­ter un­known or shal­low water cau­tiously, feet first.{/li}

♦Dive only in water clearly marked as safe for div­ing. Div­ing ar­eas should be at least 9 feet deep with no un­der­wa­ter ob­sta­cles.

Do not en­ter the water from a height, such as a tree, ledge or bridge.

♦Be care­ful when stand­ing to pre­vent be­ing knocked over by cur­rents or waves.

Do not use al­co­hol and/or drugs be­fore or while swim­ming, div­ing or su­per­vis­ing swim­mers.

♦If present, al­ways alert the life­guard in the event of an emer­gency. ♦Know how and when to call 9-1-1. ♦Learn how to re­spond to aquatic and other emer­gen­cies by tak­ing Red Cross first aid, CPR and water safety cour­ses.

♦Have ap­pro­pri­ate equip­ment, such as reach­ing or throw­ing equip­ment, a cell phone, life jack­ets and a first aid kit.

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