Pharos-Tribune

Opinion

May 29, 2013

OUR VIEW: Keep it safe this summer

With the arrival of warmer weather, more and more of us will be heading to the water for summertime fun. The American Red Cross has some tips to keep you safe.

First of all, learn to swim. There are lots of swimming courses available. Find some.

Even if you know how to swim, never swim alone, and avoid swimming in areas without a lifeguard.

Watch children around water, no matter how skilled they might be and no matter how shallow the water. Try to keep younger children within an arm’s length.

Equip children or inexperienced swimmers with U.S. Coast Guard-approved flotation devices, but never rely on those as a substitute for parental supervision. Such devices can suddenly shift position, lose air or slip away, leaving the child floundering in the water.

When swimming at a lake or reservoir, select an area that has good water quality and safe natural conditions. Murky water, hidden underwater objects, unexpected drop-offs and aquatic plant life are hazards.

Read and obey all rules and posted signs.

The Red Cross also urges parents to set water safety rules based on swimming ability. For example, inexperienced swimmers should stay in water less than chest deep.

It suggests paying attention to local weather conditions and forecasts, and it urges everyone to stop swimming at the first indication of bad weather.

Unless the area is clearly marked for diving, the Red Cross urges swimmers always to enter the water feet first.

Never mix alcohol with swimming, diving or boating. Alcohol impairs your judgment, balance and coordination, affects your swimming and diving skills, and reduces your body’s ability to stay warm.

It’s a good idea to stay away from drinks containing alcohol or caffeine. They can make you feel good briefly, but they end up making the heat’s effects on your body worse. This is especially true with beer, which dehydrates the body.

The water can be a great place to cool off on a hot day, but tragedy can strike in an instant. Let’s all be careful out there.

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