Rochester, Minnesota


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Millie Suk
Millie Suk
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Summer Safety – Part 3: Swimming

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On a hot summer day, there’s no better way to cool off than by taking a dip in a pool or spending the afternoon at a lake. But a day full of sunshine and splashing around can quickly turn tragic if you aren’t careful.

Each year approximately 6,000 people drown in the U.S. The second leading cause of accidental death among individuals aged 5 to 24 years of age is drowning. I don’t cite these sad statistics in an effort to deter you from enjoying the water; rather, I merely hope that you will remember some of these basic safety tips so that you and those around you can have a safer and more enjoyable time in the water.

Always swim with a partner. Whether you’re in a pool or open water, even the most skilled swimmers can grow tired or get a muscle cramp. If you can’t find someone to jump in the water with you, at least make sure that someone on shore or the pool deck knows you’re out there.

Know your limits. If you don’t know how to swim or are just learning, make sure you are in water that is shallow enough for you to touch the bottom. Consider a life jacket or other flotation device. If you are in open water, remember when swimming out that you have to get back!

Avoid alcohol. It impedes your judgment and your coordination. Alcohol is involved in approximately ½ of adolescent and adult deaths associated with water recreation.

Swim in designated areas. This is most important in rivers and lakes, as there are often boats and other watercrafts in the water. If you are outside of the designated area, boaters won’t be looking for you.

Never dive into unknown waters. If in a pool, pay attention to the signs indicating which areas are safe to dive in. The American Red Cross recommends a depth of at least 9 feet before diving or jumping in. If you are swimming in a lake or other open water, it is best to never dive head-first even if you think it’s deep enough – there may be a sandbar or other object that’s not readily apparent from the surface.

Know and obey colored beach flags. If there is a colored flag flapping in the wind at the beach and you don’t know what it means…ASK! The various colors are there to warn you of different dangers.

Wear sunscreen. And/or other protective clothing. Apply sunscreen 20-30 minutes before going out into the sun. Make sure it is water-proof. Reapply throughout the day.

For more tips, check out my previous posts on hiking and camping safety. As always, feel free to comment and add some of your basic swimming safety advice! Cool off in a nice body of water this summer and remember to swim safely!

Think about it.