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Water Safety is a Splash

Swimming is a great way to escape summer heat. Local pools and beaches are filled with people having fun. Water safety is the first rule of swimming and should never be disregarded whether in a private pool or on the beach. Here are some simple guidelines to being water safe.

• Learn to swim. This seems obvious but many people enjoy water recreation without this ability. It is never too late to learn to swim. YMCA’s or other community facilities offer adult classes.

• Learn CPR. If you are not properly trained in CPR, contact your local American Red Cross or YMCA. They can offer a schedule of classes or give a list of community facilities such as a hospital or fire department that might offer classes.

• Supervise children closely. Children can get away from us when we turn our heads for even a moment. Never let them out of your sight. Instruct older children and teens to buddy up. Even the most experienced swimmers get tired or suffer from muscle cramps. It is always important that someone is there to help.

• Never dive into the unknown or where diving is prohibited. If you see a “No Diving” sign posted, this means the water is not safe for a head first entry. Diving injuries are suffered by more teens than any other age group, but it can happen to anyone. Spinal cord injuries and death result from diving into too shallow or unsafe waters.

• Know your limits. If you are not yet a skilled swimmer, do not try to keep up with one. They can challenge you or test your ego, but it is more appealing to be safe and alive. If you are a skilled swimmer, keep your eye on those less skilled. They will tire more easily and will need to take breaks more frequently.

• Watch the elements. The sun reflects UV rays but the water keeps your skin cool. Never assume that you are not getting burned. You will suffer the effects of a sunburn after you exit the water. Apply sunscreen often. Also be aware of changing skies. If a storm arrives it could produce lightening.

• Listen to your body. Take breaks as needed. Drink plenty of fluids to avoid overheating and dehydration. Watch for shivers and muscle cramps. Hypothermia can set it if you stay too long in water that is below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Water causes body temperature drops more rapidly than being on dry land. Get out of the water if your body tells you that something is not right.

• Avoid Alcohol. It just does not mix with water. Impaired judgement is amplified in water.

• Have fun! Go splash and swim. Just remember, safety first will ensure that everyone has fun!

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