Summer is here and many of us will be vacationing and traveling, as well as hitting the beaches, rivers and lakes. While many of us spend the majority of the year looking forward to spending time on the water during the summer season, enjoying the water is not without risks.
Here are general open water safety tips to help keep you and your family safe this summer.
1. Pay Attention to Signs Around the Water
Most state parks, beaches, and lakefront areas have designated times where swimming is allowed and use flags to indicate borders in which people can swim. Do not ignore no swimming, no boating, no fishing and water warning signs (deep water, polluted water, high water, etc.)
2. Know the Conditions
Check the water temperature and weather conditions before hitting the water. Be aware of the currents in the area. Additionally, while shark attacks in the U.S. are rare, when swimming in the ocean, know if attacks have occurred in the area you’re visiting.
3. Have A Plan for EmergenciesHave a plan to handle and face emergencies whenever you go out to the water with friends, family, or if unavoidable, alone. Tell someone else where you are going. If you are in a group, have a designated meeting place in the event you get separated. Be sure that young children and weak swimmers wear life jackets. It’s also recommended that when swimming, someone in the group stay on shore and keep the group in the water in sight.
4. Never Swim Alone
As a general rule of thumb, always swim with at least one other person. Even the strongest swimmer can be caught off guard by fatigue or a leg cramp. It’s best to swim with a buddy or in a group.
5. Swim Parallel to the Shore
Rip currents are narrow jet streams of water near beaches that flow sporadically seaward. If you are ever caught in a rip current, the best way to escape a rip current is by swimming parallel to the shore instead of towards it, since most rip currents are an average of 100 feet wide. Try to return calm by breathing and keeping your head above water. Do not tire yourself out by swimming against the current.
6. When Boating, Know the Laws
When enjoying boating this summer, know the laws before getting on to the water for maximum safety. Check out this helpful resource for recreational boating from the U.S. Coast Guard.