Stay safe in the water and make sure everyone in your family learns how to swim. Be cautious around natural bodies of water such as the ocean, lakes, ponds, and lagoons. Here are a few tips for staying safe around water.
SWIMMERS! Most people drown within 10-30 feet of safety, it is important to know how to swim. Never rely on float toys to stay afloat.
Do not overestimate your swimming skills. Swim only in designated areas and never swim alone. No one can anticipate changing ocean currents, riptides, sudden storms, or other hidden dangers.
WHAT’S A RIPTIDE? It’s an ocean current that has nothing to do with the tides. A rip current happens as water that’s built up onshore returns to the ocean (all those waves need to go somewhere!). Rip currents are often found near fixed objects, like piers and reefs, which is why these are “no swimming” areas. If you swim into a rip current (you’ll feel it pulling you out to sea), don’t panic. Swim parallel to shore until you feel the pull stop. You can then swim back to shore.
DIVERS! Be careful about diving. Teens are more likely than any other age group to suffer diving injuries, many of which can result in permanent spinal cord damage or death. Only dive in areas that are known to be safe for diving, such as the deep end of a supervised pool. A “no diving” sign means that the water isn’t safe for a head-first entry.
WATCH CHILDREN! Each year about 200 children drown and several thousand others are treated in hospitals for accidents that leave children with permanent brain damage and respiratory health problems. Remember, it only takes a few seconds for a small child to wander away. Children have a natural curiosity and attraction to water.
COLDWATER SURVIVAL! Hypothermia is where the body loses heat faster than it can produce it. Violent shivering develops which may give way to confusion and a loss of body movement. If you fall in the water, in any season, hypothermia may occur. It’s important to remember:
*Don’t discard clothing. Clothing layers provide some warmth. This includes shoes and hats.
*Wear your life jacket! This helps hold heat into the core areas of your body.
NO ALCOHOL! More than half of all people that drown consumed alcohol prior to their accident. Just one beer will impair your balance, vision, judgment and reaction time, therefore making you a danger to yourself and others.
Have fun this summer and stay water safe!
– BY: Cinda Seamon – Hilton Head Island Fire Rescue