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Travis: Lake Safety

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Sheriff Will Travis (Photo by Helen's Photography)
Sheriff Will Travis (Photo by Helen’s Photography)

The lakes are open this year, at least partially, and this means there’s even more risk around water, especially for kids, but also for adults.

We all know that kids require constant supervision around any kind of water, including bathtubs, lakes, ponds, (ornamental and otherwise) pools, hot tubs, and even aquariums and mop buckets; however, adults often take their own safety for granted thinking they know how to swim, or they will not fall in the water.

Since we never know when one of those things might happen, here are some tips for kids and adults to help everyone have a safe and happy summer.

Be Smart about the Water

Water can be appealing, yet dangers often lurk below the surface:

  • Water that is warm on the surface may be much colder below. Use caution when swimming and always supervise young children playing in or near the water. Large rocks and logs can tip over rafts, canoes, and kayaks. Illnesses can be prevented by not swallowing the water – learn more about recreational water illnesses.
  • If you are on the water, wear protective gear and life jackets. Tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return, and be prepared for sudden weather changes. Storms can come up suddenly.
  • Swimming in open water is harder than in a pool. People tire faster and get into trouble more quickly. A person can go under water in a murky lake, making them very hard to find, or be swept away in currents. Many good swimmers have gotten into trouble or drowned in currents that didn’t seem to be moving that fast.
  • Be cautious of sudden drop-offs in lakes and rivers. A strong current can pull anyone under.
  • When boating, don’t overload the boat and wear a life jacket that fits. Many people have drowned when they fell overboard, even close to shore.
  • Stay sober when on or in the water. Alcohol and other drugs increase the effects of weather, temperature, and wave action.

Be Prepared

  • Recreational boats must carry one U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket for each person aboard. The life jacket must be available and accessible. This is a nationwide Coast Guard rule.
  • Take life jackets, a rescue device, a cell phone, and, if possible, someone who knows CPR when you are out on the water.
  • Know where your child is, who they are with, and when they are expected home.
  • Parents are powerful role models – if you wear a life jacket, it’s more likely your children will too.
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