Water safety tips for the holiday weekend
As the weather finally heats up for the Fourth of July weekend, people are heading to the beaches, lakes and pools around Minnesota for a little relief from soaring summer temperatures and humidity.
"As cool and refreshing as the water looks, folks must use caution and common sense to stay safe," said Tim Smalley, DNR boat and water safety specialist. "While many people are anxious for some fun in the water, it is important to remember that even the most innocent-looking lake, stream or pool can pose dangers."
The DNR offers these tips to help make it a safer summer in Minnesota:
- wear a life jacket when boating, because most boat-related drownings happen to people who can swim but aren't wearing life vests
- make sure boat running lights are working before setting out to watch fireworks or boat after sunset
- avoid becoming distracted with a book or cell phone and watch children the entire time they are near water, because downing is often silent, quick, and can happen when help is nearby
- take swimming lessons; many local parks and recreation departments and the American Red Cross offer courses for children and adults
- don't swim from a boat anchored in deep water without a life vest, even if a good swimmer
- swim with a buddy because even adults can get into trouble in the water
- swim in a designated swimming area with lifeguards whenever possible
- don't rely on plastic arm "water wings," inner tubes or water toys to save a child's life because they may deflate or slip off
- consider a life vest for children, including recently-approved children's bathing suits with built-in life vests
- learn child and adult CPR.
Smalley advises people to call 911 in an emergency. "A person can always cancel the call if it turns out to be a false alarm," he said.
Smalley said a person should only attempt a swimming rescue if properly trained in lifesaving techniques.
He said people should know how to rescue a drowning person without taking additional risk. "Throw a floating object or extend something like a paddle, towel or other item to the victim," Smalley said. "Release the object and try another form of rescue if the victim attempts to pull the you into the water."
Someone who has been totally submerged in water and then recovered should get medical attention. "A small amount of inhaled impure water can cause severe lung infections, and even death, if left untreated," Smalley said.