Many people like to take a break from the summer heat by jumping in a pool or a lake or going on a boat ride, but while the water can be refreshing, it can also be dangerous.
According to Safe Kids USA, drowning deaths among kids increase to 89 percent between May and August.
Safety experts urge families to use life jackets and always supervise children in the water. I also found these safety tips for staying safe near water, according to this news reports.
1. Learn to swim.
2. Watch swimmers in or around the water. When selecting who is in charge, designate a CPR-trained adult who can swim. And do not read, play with your iPad, or do anything else distracting when it’s your turn to watch the children.
3. Learn CPR.
4. Use buddy systems and lifeguards. Regardless of your age, swim with a buddy and select sites with lifeguards wherever possible. Be nice to your lifeguard, too. (Ronald Reagan was a lifeguard long before becoming president.) And your buddy should be a human, not your dog.
5. Heed warning flags at the beach. If you don’t know what they mean, find someone and ask. If many people suddenly are leaving the beach, ask one of them why everyone is leaving. If the beach is deserted, don’t go in the water at all. (And if you see shark fins in the water, don’t go in.)
6. Know the terrain. Beware of sudden drop-offs. Always enter water feet first. (One of my high school friends became paralyzed after diving into a flooded quarry and hitting his head.
7. Avoid rip currents. You can identify them by looking for water that is discolored, choppy, foamy, or filled with debris and that is moving in a channel away from shore. If caught in a rip current, swim parallel to shore until you get free of the current, then swim toward shore. (That’s what I instinctively did in Rio, since I hadn’t yet heard about the danger of rip currents.)
8. Use life jackets. I can’t tell you how many boats I’ve boarded with no life jackets in sight. After asking about the life jackets, I’ve been told that “they’re stored below” or words to that effect. The worst offenders were pilots of boats outside of North America or Europe. Do not use “noodles,” inner tubes, or water wings in place of life jackets, as they are toys and not designed to keep you safe. Unless there are no life jackets, then use anything you can to stay afloat.
9. Avoid alcohol while swimming, boating or water skiing, as well as when supervising children.
10. Learn boating safety; take a formal safety course.
11. Know the weather before you go swimming or boating. Avoid strong winds and thunderstorms when lightning strikes can be dangerous.
As a Columbia personal injury lawyer, I’m saddened to hear boating and water accidents. I urge boaters and passengers to always wear a life jacket and practice safety techniques and follow speed limits while boating or in the water.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a boat accident, contact a personal injury lawyer in Columbia.