May is National Water Safety Month

May 11, 2014

By Staff

NEW — 6 a.m. May 11, 2014

In recognition of swimming and other popular water-related recreational activities in the United States, and the resulting need for ongoing public education on safer water practices, May is National Water Safety Month.

While you are having fun, remember that water safety is serious business.

Swimming is a fun and enjoyable activity for children and adults alike, and it is an easy way to stay physically active. Unfortunately, sun, heat and fair-weather activities such as swimming also present their share of hazards.

Drowning is the second-leading cause of injury or death for children younger than 18. Most drowning deaths occur in outdoor settings, such as lakes, rivers and ponds.

It is important to understand your limits and be aware of water conditions.  Dangerous currents, cold water temperatures, hidden debris and objects in the water can pose unknown hazards.

When possible, swim where lifeguards are present. Children who are in or near water must be supervised closely by a sober, attentive adult who knows how to rescue someone.

Eastside Fire & Rescue offers the following extra tips:

  • Stay within designated swimming areas. Swimming beyond designated areas in lakes and rivers has been a factor in drowning deaths of Washington teenagers and adults. Be cautious of sudden drop-offs. Because rivers are constantly moving, they can carve new channels, bring trees down into a river and create new drop-offs.
  • Many rivers and lakes remain cold all summer, even if they are warm on the surface. It is hard to swim in cold water, especially when one is tired. Hypothermia can set in quickly.
  • Know your limits and your abilities; stop before you are too tired.
  • Weather and water conditions can change quickly. Check weather forecasts and be prepared for adverse conditions.
  • Set limits with your children — when they can go in the water, where they can go, who needs to be there and what they should have with them. Just because they are with a group of friends does not mean they can rescue each other if someone gets into trouble.

Learn more about drowning prevention from Public Health — Seattle & King County and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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