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FAMILY MATTERS: Water safety heats up during summer weather
As I sit on this rainy summer afternoon reflecting on the intense week I just spent training a group of 10 fine people to become certified American Red Cross lifeguards, it strikes me how imperative it is for all of us to learn, to remember, and to most importantly use a few basic water safety rules so we can safely enjoy our time spent in or around the water this summer.
Lifeguards have a duty to watch and keep swimmers safe and know how to respond to emergencies; but don’t we all also have the ability and the responsibility to be smart and safe about water? I believe we do.
Having been a lifeguard and swimming instructor for 25 years now, and working at the Enumclaw Aquatic Center for several years, I would like to remind and impress upon everyone that armed with a healthy respect for the power of water and learning and following several very basic water safety practices will help all of us avoid dangerous or deadly circumstances.
Already this season we have had a tragic drowning loss and several rescues on our local rivers.
In anticipation of a very dangerous year on the rivers, due to such a phenomenal snowfall this year, King County instituted an emergency ordinance requiring people to wear personal flotation devices while on any of its major rivers to help keep everyone safe as the water levels rise and run faster and colder this summer.
So, it’s not necessary for everyone to spend an intensive week becoming a lifeguard, but everyone can spend some time learning and following some water safety rules.
According to the American Red Cross’ Summer Water Safety Guide, the practices below will help ensure that when our summer weather actually arrives, we will safely splash, float, boat, and cool off.
PRACTICE WATER SAFETY
• Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
• Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone.
• Ensure that everyone in the family learns to swim well. Enroll in age-appropriate Red Cross water orientation and Learn-to-Swim courses.
• Never leave a young child unattended near water and do not trust a child’s life to another child; teach children to always ask permission to go near water.
• Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone.
MAINTAIN CONSTANT SUPERVISION
• If you have a pool, secure it with appropriate barriers – many children who drown in home pools were out of sight for less than 5 minutes and in the care of one or both parents at the time.
• Actively supervise children whenever around water – even if lifeguards are present. Always stay within arm’s reach of young children.
• Avoid distractions when supervising children around water.
KNOW HOW TO RESPOND TO AN AQUATIC EMERGENCY
• If a child is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.
• Know how and when to call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
• Enroll in Red Cross water safety, first aid and CPR courses to learn how to respond.
• Have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit.
The ARC Summer Water Safety Guide is available at http://american.redcross.org/site/DocServer/watersafety0609.pdf?docID=735.
The Enumclaw Aquatic Center has American Red Cross swim lessons available for all ages and levels. We also offer CPR/AED, First Aid and Lifeguard Training. And, we can give you water safety information and resources. If you would like further information, training, or resources please contact the Enumclaw Aquatic Center by visiting our website at http://www.ci.enumclaw.wa or call us at 360-825-1188. Our staff will be happy to help you earn and enjoy all your water activities safely.
By Kristin Munnell
For The Courier-Herald