Warm Weather Means Knowing Water Safety
Now that the weather is warming up, Stanislaus County Sheriff Les Weidman is urging residents to use caution while on the lakes and waterways this summer season. “Water safety is again going to be a major concern during these hot summer months,” said Weidman. “As more people take to the water to avoid the summer heat, the possibility for water accidents increases.”
“When the weather warms up, the county´s lakes and rivers see an increase in recreational water activities,” said Sheriff´s Department spokesman Tom Letras. “Many people don´t realize the possible dangers that exist on these waterways and it sometimes results in tragic accidents.”
“Every year we are called out to several of these drowning scenes,” said Weidman. “Many times it is a very sad and unfortunate loss of life that could have been prevented if the victim would have been wearing a life jacket before going in or near the water. I also want to remind people that canals are not meant for recreational water activities. The swift water and sometimes slick moss-covered sides makes them a dangerous place for even the most experienced swimmers.”
The Sheriff´s Department has regular patrols stationed at the local reservoirs to enforce water safety laws. The Department has also put together a list of safety tips to help you to stay safe in, on, and around the water. These tips can also be found on the Sheriff´s Department web site at www.stanislaussheriff.com.
General Water Safety Tips
– Learn to swim. The best thing anyone can do to stay safe in and around the water is to learn to swim. Always swim with a buddy; never go swimming alone.
– Swim in supervised areas only.
– Obey all water safety rules and posted signs.
– Don´t mix alcohol and swimming. Alcohol impairs your judgement, balance, and coordination, affects your swimming and diving skills, and reduces your body´s ability to stay warm.
– Know how to prevent, recognize, and respond to emergencies.
– Do not enter the water if you are too tired, too cold, too far from safety, or have had too much sun or strenuous activity.
– Use proper sunscreens to decrease the risk of sunburn and sun-related skin cancers.
– Drink plenty of water regularly. Your body needs water to keep cool. Avoid drinks with alcohol and caffeine in them. They can make you feel good briefly but make the heat´s effects on your body worse. This is especially true with beer, which dehydrates the body.
– Watch for signs of heat stroke. Heat stroke is life threatening.
– Use sunglasses to protect your eyes from dangerous UV rays given off by the sun.
– Wear foot protection to keep from getting your feet burned or cut on broken glass in the sand.
Boating Safety Tips
– Learn to swim. This includes anyone participating in any boating activity.
– Do not drink alcohol prior to or while participating in boating activities. Over 50 percent of drownings occur as a result from boating incidents involving alcohol. It is against the law to be under the influence while operating water craft.
– Always wear Coast Guard approved life jackets when you are boating or fishing.
– Develop a float plan. Anytime you go out in a boat, give a responsible person details about where you will be and how long you will be gone. This is important because if the boat is delayed because of an emergency, becomes lost, or encounters other problems, you want help to be able to reach you.
– New boat owners should take a boaters safety course to learn about boating and navigation rules, emergency procedures and the effects of wind, water conditions, and weather.
Home Pool Safety Tips
– Learn to swim.
– Never leave children unsupervised around water. You should have an eye on children at all times.
– Keep a phone by the pool so you can call 9-1-1 in case of an emergency.
– Learn CPR and insist that anyone who cares for your children know CPR also.
– Enclose the pool completely with a self-locking, self-closing fence with vertical bars. If your house is part of the barrier, the doors leading from the house should remain locked and be protected with an alarm that sounds when the door is unexpectedly opened. If there is a pet door, be sure that it is locked when small children are in the house.
– Check your fence regularly to make sure that it is secure so neighbor children can´t wander into your yard and fall into the pool.
– Never leave furniture near the fence that would enable a child to climb over and gain access to the pool.
– Always keep basic lifesaving equipment by the pool and know how to use it. A pole, rope, and personal floatation devices are recommended.
– Keep toys away from the pool when not in use. Toys can attract young children into the pool.
– Pool covers should always be completely removed prior to pool use.
– If a child is missing, check the pool first. Go to the edge of the pool and scan the entire pool, bottom, and surface, as well as the surrounding pool area.
Child Safety Tips
– Maintain constant supervision.
– Do not rely on substitutes. Use of floatation devices and inflatable toys should NEVER replace adult supervision. Such devices could suddenly shift position, lose air, or slip out from underneath, leaving the child in a dangerous situation.
– Enroll children in a water safety and swimming course.
– If you are supervising children around pools you should take a CPR course.
Lakes and Rivers Safety Tips
– Learn to swim.
– When possible, swim in an area that is supervised by lifeguards. Even good swimmers can have an unexpected emergency in the water.
– Never swim alone.
– Select an area that has good water quality and safe natural conditions. Murky water, hidden underwater objects, unexpected drop-offs, and aquatic plant life are hazards. Strong tides, big waves, and currents can turn a n event that began as fun into a tragedy.
– Make sure the water is deep enough before diving in head-first. Many swimmers are seriously injured by diving into shallow water.
Personal Watercraft (Jet Skis) Safety Tips
– Learn to swim.
– Know local laws and regulations regarding personal watercraft.
– Operate your watercraft with courtesy and common sense.
– Follow the traffic pattern and obey no-wake and speed zones.
– Use extreme caution around swimmers. Run your watercraft at a slow speed until you are away from shore, swimming areas, and docks.
– Always wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket while operating or riding on personal watercraft.
– Ride with a buddy. Personal watercraft should always travel in groups of two or three. You never know when an emergency may occur.
– Do not drink alcohol and operate a personal watercraft. It is very dangerous and against the law.
Tubing and Rafting Safety Tips
– Learn to swim.
– Always wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket.
– Do not go rafting after a heavy rain.
– Know local weather conditions and make sure they are safe prior to entering the water.
Water Skiing Safety Tips
– Learn to swim.
– Wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket.
– Always turn the boat motor completely off when you approach a fallen skier.
– Watch the water ahead of you at all times.
– Have an extra person aboard to watch and assist the skier.
– Run parallel to shore and come in slowly when landing. Sit down in the boat if you are coming into shore too fast.
– Use proper hand signals to signal boat operator.
– Do not ski at night or in restricted areas.
– Know local weather conditions and do not go into the water unless they are safe.
Have a safe and fun summer and enjoy the water!!!
For information about this news release, contact Sheriff´s Department
spokesman Tom Letras at (209) 525-7045.