May is National Water Safety Month

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Hello neighbors. During the warmer days in spring and summer, many people like to take trips to the local lakes and rivers. People with boats like to go either sailing or motor boating, others like slow moving boats for fishing and others like boats that scarcely move at all for spending a weekend on rather like a camper on the water.

There are lots of water sports like river rafting, tubing (riding in a large tire tube), skiing on the water, and canoeing down fast moving rivers.

Some of us prefer boating on a larger scale and take short trips on an old-fashioned paddle wheeler. These scenic trips usually involve a meal.

Iíll admit I am not too involved in any type of water sports. Just sitting on a beach near a large body of water makes me nervous. Wading in any water larger than a puddle or a farm creek is out of my league. Taking a cruise out on the ocean in a large ocean liner would absolutely terrify me.

My daughter loves to swim; my son took lessons but never truly learned to swim. He, like me, is uncomfortable in water over his knees.

I see people in the swimming pool looking like they are having fun and I do envy them their fearless association with water. The good thing about public swimming pools is that a lifeguard is always on duty and always alert.

Many people have a pool in their backyards. Since May is the National Water Safety Month, I found some tips for people with access to private swimming pools.

Stay close, be alert and watch children in and around the pool. Never leave a child unattended in a pool and always watch your child when he or she is in or near water. Teach children basic water safety tips. Keep children away from pool drains, pipes and other openings to avoid entrapment. Have a telephone close by when you or your family is using a pool. If a child is missing, look for him or her in the pool first. Share safety instructions with family, friends and neighbors. Learn how to swim and teach your child how to swim. Learn to perform CPR on children and adults and update those skills regularly. Understand the basics of life saving so that you can assist in a pool emergency. Install a four-foot or taller fence around the pool and use self-closing and self-latching gates; ask your neighbors to do the same at their pools. Install pool and gate alarms to alert you when children go near the water. Ensure any pool and spa you use has compliant drain covers and ask your pool service provider if you donít know. Maintain pool and spa covers in good working order. For more tips for pool and spa owners, visit PoolSafely.gov. Contact your local Red Cross office for more tips on swimming pool safety.

The National Red Cross offers tips on swimming in natural waterways like rivers, streams and lakes. They advise that all swimmers should wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets. Here are other tips they have on one of their posters: Practice Water Safety. Ensure that everyone in your family learns to swim well by enrolling them in age-appropriate learn-to-swim courses. Swim only in areas that are designated for swimming with buoys and ropes and are supervised by lifeguards. Keep children under constant active supervision and remain free from distractions. Ensure that inexperienced swimmers stay within armís reach. Have weak swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets whenever they are in, on or around water. Do not rely upon water wings or inflatable toys; they can enable swimmers to go beyond their ability or suddenly deflate, which could lead to a drowning situation.

Whenever you are near a natural water environment, look out for: Unexpected changes in air or water temperature. Fast-moving currents, waves and rapids, even in shallow water. Hazards, such as dams, underwater obstacles, or rocks or debris moving on the surface or along the bottom of the water. Aquatic life, such as vegetation that could entangle feet or animals that live in, on or around the water. Sudden drop-offs that change water depth. Other peopleís activities in the same waters, such as boating.

Swimming is a great way for families to play together. Just remember to think smart and be safe!