June is National Safety Month, and it is also the start of summer. In the Natural State, we will be heading to the many sources of water in droves. Thousands will be at the lakes and rivers enjoying all the recreation that the state has to offer. We can’t let our guard down while we are having fun, but unfortunately for so many, tragedy strikes. Arkansas ranks 10th in the nation for drownings at 1.7 per 100,000 residents, and drowning is second in manner of death for children, only behind automobile accidents. That is too many needless deaths. What can we do to help make sure that doesn’t happen?
The Red Cross posted several tips that, if heeded, can reduce the number of drowning deaths.
Make Water Safety Your Priority
- Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone. Even at a pool or a lifeguard beach. Use the buddy system.
- Ensure that everyone in the family learns to swim well. Enroll in age-appropriate Red Cross water orientation and Learn to Swim courses.
- Never leave a young child unattended near water and do not trust a child’s life to another child teach children to always ask permission to go near water.
- Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear US Coast Guard approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone.
- Establish rules for your family and enforce them without fail; for Example, set limits based on each person’s ability; do not let anyone play around drains and suction fittings; and do not allow swimmers to hyperventilate before swimming under water or have breath-holding contests.
- Even if you do not plan on swimming, be cautious around natural bodies of water, including ocean shorelines, rivers, and lakes. Cold temperatures, currents, and underwater hazards can make a fall into these bodies of water dangerous.
- If you go boating, wear a life jacket! Most boating fatalities occurred from drowning.
- Avoid alcohol use. Alcohol impairs judgement, balance, and coordination, affects swimming and diving skills, and reduces the body’s ability to stay warm.
Summer is supposed to be a time for fun; we want to ensure that everyone comes home safe. If you want to explore more safety tips, visit www.redcross.org
Sheriff Marty Boyd