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Keeping Safe in the Water

When the warmer months arrive, people turn to the water as a means of relaxation and enjoyment. Holidays, weekends, or just a free afternoon, can find any number of people enjoying leisure time at local rivers, surfing in the ocean, swimming in pools, or boating on lakes. Regardless of what one's personal preference is when it comes to time spent in, near or on the water, there is one thing that must be adhered to - water safety. No matter what a person's age or experience level, he or she must always take the right steps to stay safe while in or near the water. Accidental drowning or contact with dangerous marine life are just a few of the potential threats that people must be aware of. Before taking to the water, it is necessary for people to learn what is needed to keep themselves, their families, and those around them safe.

Couple by the River

General Safety

Anyone who plans to spend time near or on the water should know the basics of water safety. General water safety can go a long way in preventing minor or potentially fatal accidents from ever taking place. Because a person will need to think clearly at all times, he or she should refrain from consuming alcohol whenever they plan to be in or on the water. Alcohol can impair one's ability to make sound choices and may encourage reckless behavior. Knowing how to swim is also critical when participating in water-based activities. While a person may never intend to get in the water, unpredictable accidents can occur. For this reason, parents will also want to ensure that their children know how to swim and that they are carefully supervised at all times. Being on the water by oneself is also highly unsafe and should be avoided. Swimming, boating, or any other type of water activity is also not advisable during inclement weather as waters can be unpredictable or rough. Understanding what to do in the event of an emergency is another very important, yet general safety rule.

Ocean Safety

When people's activities take them near the ocean, like going to the beach for example, it is necessary to follow certain specific safety precautions. People must be aware of things such as rip currents and rogue waves, and know what to do in the event of them. It is important to always swim, surf or play only at beaches that are protected by a lifeguard. It is also important to remain within any designated swim area. Dressing appropriately is also important as it can affect a person's ability to move freely or swim to safety. Long pants, sweaters, t-shirts, and similar clothing items should never be worn in the water. If caught in a rip current people must make every effort to remain calm as panicking often results in taking the wrong action and drowning. If caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the beach, not against the current, and wave to signal the lifeguard.

When playing in the water, people should watch where they step to avoid dangers such as in-shore holes and stingrays. If any marine animals, such sea lions, are present, they should be avoided. A wild animal may potentially attack if it feels threatened. In addition to watching out for wildlife, people can ensure their safety while enjoying the ocean by heeding their own personal limits. They should never swim further than their skill level allows and must be able to recognize when they are feeling fatigue. It is also important to stay aware of what others in the ocean are doing to help prevent accidents from occurring.

Shore by the Lake

Lake & River Safety

When enjoying time on area lakes or rivers, basic water safety rules must be adhered to. In addition, it is important to stay in areas where the water is of good quality. Rivers or lakes that are polluted or murky in appearance can hide dangers and can make people sick. When entering the water, go feet-first as opposed to diving in to avoid head injury if it is not deep enough. Stay away from arroyos and drainage ditches as they can be dangerous, particularly after heavy rains.

Pool Safety

As enjoyable as pools are, they can be a dangerous place, particularly for small children. People with backyard pools must be extremely careful to ensure that accidental drownings due not occur do to a child entering the pool when no one is aware. The most important way to keep children safe is to never allow them to swim alone and to establish rules regarding the use of the pool. Around the pool install a self-closing, locking fence that is no shorter than four feet. Safety covers that lock are also a good safety feature. The addition of a gate alarm will also help to alert family members of children near the pool. Adults and children should never play near the pool's suction outlets or drains to avoid possible entrapment. Use drain covers and replace them as quickly as possible if they should break or come loose. It is also crucial to learn CPR in the event of an accident as it can help to save a life.

Water bubble

Boating Safety

In some states people who operate a water vehicle are required to take a boating safety class, while in others it may be a recommendation. It is important that a person knows what the laws are for his or her state before taking a boat out on the water. Prior to taking the boat out on the water thoroughly check the boat to ensure that it is in good working condition. All lights should work, the battery charged and there should be enough fuel. A person should never go boating without first informing someone of the location and when he or she plans to come back. Know what to do in the event of an emergency situation and keep life vests and other life saving devices on-board. There should be one life vest for each person on-board. Also, it is important to stay aware of weather conditions before and while on the water. Another very real threat to boaters is carbon monoxide poisoning. Because it is odorless and tasteless, a carbon monoxide alarm should be placed on the boat to alert passengers if there is a problem. Passengers must also be aware of the warning signs, which include headaches, drowsiness, and nausea.