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    Water Safety Tips for Spring Break & Other Aquatic Adventures

    Water Safety Tips for Spring Break & Other Aquatic Adventures

    Photo By Pamela Doty | By R.J. Garren read more read more

    UNITED STATES

    05.06.2019

    Story by Pamela Doty 

    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Water Safety

    Spring break is when many people go to warm-weather destinations to enjoy some time with friends in, on, or near the water. These are some tips you need to know before you go on any aquatic adventure that I’ve learned from personal experiences and from a career that involved tracking water-related fatalities nationwide.

    I’ve lived in the Midwest all my life. As a young adult on a trip to the coast, I survived being caught in a rip current and I had never even heard of such a thing. It happened when I was wading along the ocean shore in water that wasn’t even knee deep. At the time, I was a very strong swimmer, but suddenly a wave pulled me out into the ocean and I could not swim straight back to the shore. My friends on shore were all laughing at me because they were just as oblivious as to what was happening as I was. Miraculously, they were walking on the shore up ahead of me so I was trying to get back to them. That put me swimming in their direction, which paralleled the shore. I found out afterwards that swimming parallel to shore is what you’re supposed to do if you get caught in a rip current.

    Since then, I’ve also learned that rip currents are powerful, narrow channels of fast-moving water that can be found anywhere there are breaking waves. In the U.S., rip currents can happen on any coastal waters and along shores of the Great Lakes. Strong currents can also happen around hard structures, like jetties, piers, or even rocks. Rip currents occur more often at low tide and in any kind of weather. It’s a good idea to learn how to identify and avoid all types of strong currents before you go and there are numerous videos of rip currents on YouTube that show how to do that. Another good idea is to never swim alone and keep an eye on each other. Swimming only in areas designated as safe for swimming is best. Many beaches have flags with different colors and symbols or signage notifying people of hazardous conditions so learn what the flags mean for where you’re going. To learn more about rip currents and get beach forecasts visit www.weather.gov/safety/ripcurrent .

    Another common, but unsafe thing to do, is to jump or dive into open waters, such as a lake, river, or ocean. Doing that anywhere you can’t see what’s under the water’s surface can be deadly. Plus, just because someone else did it without a problem, doesn’t mean it will work out well for you too. At a lake near me, a guy jumped into the water and was impaled by a stick into his rectum. Miraculously he survived, but I imagine his life was changed forever. I’ve heard of many others who were strong swimmers that jumped into open waters and never came back up for reasons that were never determined.

    Swimming around boats can be hazardous for the obvious risk of propeller injuries, which can be fatal. A less obvious risk is Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning. CO is a colorless, odorless, gas that is heavier than air and lighter than water, which means when the air is calm CO sits on top of the water’s surface. Only one breath of CO can cause someone to pass out and drown if they’re in the water. Gasoline-powered engines on boats, including generators, produce CO. Faulty engines and generators that are not maintained or repaired properly can produce more CO than normal. CO is more likely to accumulate when there are several boats together in one area, but CO poisoning can happen anywhere, even when you’re on a boat with the motor or generator running and no other boats are around. To learn more about CO and boating visit www.cdc.gov/co/boating.htm.

    Simple games people play in the water that involve breath holding and swim challenges can be deadly. Shallow water blackout is a condition that happens from holding your breath too long while swimming or over breathing by taking several deep breaths in a row (hyperventilating) before a swim. This can cause you to faint or blackout from low oxygen to your brain. Interestingly, this often happens to people who know how to swim well. Once someone loses consciousness, the body reacts and water enters the lungs, causing drowning death, if not rescued immediately. To learn more about shallow water blackout and how to prevent it, visit www.shallowwaterblackoutprevention.org.

    Wearing a life jacket is always a good idea to help prevent these types of water-related accidents and fatalities and increase your chances of being rescued. To make sure your time on or near the water is always enjoyable and that everyone returns home safely share these water safety tips with your friends. You could save a friend’s life.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 05.06.2019
    Date Posted: 05.06.2019 13:26
    Story ID: 320913
    Location: US

    Web Views: 57
    Downloads: 0

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