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When the weather turns warm, everyone wants to be in or around the water. Hanging out at the pool or beach on a hot day is a great way to beat the heat. Between cooling off and having fun, most people do not think about water safety – but they should. For people between the ages of 5 and 24, drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death. It does not have to be that way, though. Most water related accidents can be avoided by knowing how to stay safe and following a few simple guidelines.

“Buddy UP!”
That’s what swimming instructors say. Always swim with a partner, every time- whether you are swimming in a backyard pool or in a lake. Even experienced swimmers can become tired or get muscle cramps, which might make it difficult to get out of the water. When people swim together, they help each other or go for help in case of an emergency.

Get Skilled.
Learn some life-saving techniques, such as CPR and rescue techniques, can help save a life. Organizations such as the Red Cross, YMCA/YWCA offer classes.
Know you limits. Swimming can be a lot of fun – and you might want to stay in the water as long as possible. If you are not a good swimmer or just learning to swim, do not go in water that’s so deep you can not touch the bottom.
Swim in safe areas. It’s a good idea to swim only in places that are supervised by a lifeguard. No one can anticipate changing ocean currents, riptides, sudden storms, or other hidden dangers. Lifeguards are trained in rescue techniques. Swimming in an open body of water (like river, lake, ocean) is different from a pool. You need more energy to handle the currents and other conditions in open water. If you find yourself in a current, do not panic and do not fight the current. Swim with the current, gradually trying to make your way back to shore as you do so. Do your research so you know where not to swim.

Sun reflecting off the water or off sand can intensify the burning rays. You might not feel sunburned when the water feels cool and refreshing, but the pain will catch up with you later – so remember to reapply sunscreen frequently and cover up much of the time.

It is easy to get dehydrated in the sun, particularly if you are active and sweating. Keep up with fluids – particularly water to prevent dehydration. Dizziness, feeling lightheaded, or nausea can be signs of dehydration and overheating.

©2007 St. James Catholic Church, Hopewell, VA