Department of Health, Eastside Fire & Rescue offer water safety tips

August 3, 2012

By Staff

NEW — 4 p.m. Aug. 3, 2012

The mercury is expected to rise in the days ahead, and health and safety officials urge people to enjoy the sunshine safely.

Eastside Fire & Rescue and the state Department of Health offer water safety tips for summer.

Sparkling water in pools, lakes, and rivers beckons on warm summer days. Often, though, water is cold, deep, moving fast, and can weaken and drown even the strongest swimmer.

“Life jackets save lives, and not just of children,” Dr. Maxine Hayes, state health officer, said in a statement. “In just two weeks in mid-July, three people drowned in northeast Washington near Spokane. That includes some young adults, and none were wearing a life jacket. Three young people have also lost their lives in Lake Tapps in Pierce County this year, and these tragedies happen all over the state. It’s sad, because drowning is often preventable, either with life jackets or adults supervising children.”

Health, hospital, law enforcement, retail and Safe Kids groups statewide joined forces to raise awareness and publicize life jacket loaner programs. Such a program exists at Lake Sammamish State Park just outside Issaquah.

EFR offered safety tips for residents eager to boat, fish or swim:

  • When possible, swim where a lifeguard is on duty. Children in or near water must be supervised closely by a sober, attentive adult who knows how to rescue someone.
  • Stay within designated swimming areas. Swimming beyond designated areas in lakes and rivers is a factor in the drowning deaths of Washington teenagers and adults. Be cautious of sudden drop-offs. Because rivers constantly move, water can carve channels, bring trees down into the river and create drop-offs.
  • Many rivers and lakes remain cold all summer, even if the water feels warm on the surface. Swimming is difficult in cold water, especially if you feel tired. Hypothermia can set in quickly.
  • Know your limits and your abilities; stop before you become too tired.
  • Weather and water conditions can change quickly. Check weather forecasts and be prepared for adverse conditions.
  • Set limits with children — when they can go in the water, where they can go, who needs to be present and what they should have with them.
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