With temperatures rising and dry weather becoming common, more people are heading outdoors to enjoy the sunshine and our waterways.
Unfortunately, sun, heat and fair-weather activities – such as swimming – also present hazards.
Drowning is the second-leading cause of injury and death for children under 18. Most drowning deaths occur in outdoor settings, such as lakes, rivers and ponds.
The risk is not limited to children. Fishing and boating are major factors in drowning among middle-aged men.
U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets are required for children 12 or younger while on boats of less than 19 feet. The best thing anybody can do to stay safe is to always wear a life jacket when fishing and playing in or near the water.
It is also important to understand your limits and be aware of the water conditions. Dangerous currents, cold water temperatures, hidden debris and objects in the water can pose unknown hazards. Eastside Fire & Rescue offers the following tips to stay safe on and near the water:
- When possible, swim where lifeguards are present. Children who are in or near water must be supervised closely by a sober, attentive adult who knows how to rescue someone.
- Stay within designated swimming areas. Swimming beyond designated areas in lakes and rivers is a factor in the drowning deaths of Washington State teenagers and adults. Be cautious of sudden drop-offs. Because rivers are constantly moving, they can carve new channels, bring trees down into the river and create new drop-offs.
- Many rivers and lakes remain cold all summer, even if they are warm on the surface. It is difficult to swim in cold water, especially when you are tired. Hypothermia can set in quickly.
- Know your limits and your abilities; stop before you become too tired.
- Weather and water conditions can change quickly. Check weather forecasts and be prepared for adverse conditions.
- Set limits with your children, such as when they can go in the water, where they can go, who needs to be there and what they should have with them. Just because they are with a group of friends does not mean they can rescue each other if somebody gets into trouble.