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Tips to Stay Safe In and Around the Water

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Updated January 27, 2012

Playing in the water can be fun and exciting while still being extremely dangerous. Anyone who likes to swim, boat, fish, kayak, surf, ski, dive, or perform any other activity on or near the water should exercise caution. We can all be guilty of complacency around bodies of water with which we are familiar. If you live near a lake, stream, or river, if you have a spa or pool in the backyard, you have the potential for a water-related injury.

Staying safe in and around water is usually accomplished with common sense, especially if alcohol is left out of the equation. It's not just kids who are in danger of drowning or other water-related injury. Adults - usually focused on keeping kids safe - fail to take appropriate precautions for themselves.

If you have pools or spas at home, be sure to follow the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission's suggestions for pool safety.

To help you stay safe in and around bodies of water, here are some safety tips to follow when fishing, boating, or just soaking it in:

  • Learn to swim. Knowing how to swim is empowering and helps to keep you safe from inadvertant dips as much as it is fun.

  • Never swim in irrigation or drainage canals! Canals have strong currents that can trap swimmers and hold them under water. Canal water often contains pesticides or fertilizers that can cause reactions in swimmers.

  • Know your or your child's abilities. Don't try to swim in water over chest deep if you aren't able to. If you can't swim, keep your feet on the ground.

  • Follow the rules. If you are swimming in an are designated for swimming, follow the posted rules. If there are no rules posted, it may not be a safe area to swim.
  • Try to swim in supervised areas with lifeguards on duty.

  • Make the family's rules based on swimming ability - those who can swim better get more freedom.

  • Look for the dangerous "too's" - too tired, too drunk, too much sun, too far from safety, too much strenuous activity.

  • Know the area you swim in, the shallows and the hazards.

  • Only dive when the area is clear and deep enough. If you are unsure of the area, always enter the water feet first (jump or walk in).

  • Stay sober. Alcohol and drugs affect balance, judgement, coordination, swimming skills, and the body's ability to stay warm.

  • Learn CPR
Find these and more water safety tips from the American Red Cross.
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