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May 2, 2013

Summer safety tips

By Gabriel Hart

As the semester ends and the weather warms most of us will be doing a lot of swimming. Here at The Cleveland Stater we want everyone to have a great summer, but most importantly a safe one. But before we get to the tips let’s start out with some facts and statistics.

•Eight in 10 persons who drown are under the age of 14.

•Still, children ages 1-4 have the highest rates of drowning.

•Nearly drowning can result in lifelong injury, including permanent brain damage.

•Alcohol is a factor in nearly half of the drownings of persons age 15 and up.

So with that said, here are some tips for swimming safely this summer.

Know the water: It is important that you know and understand where and what you’re swimming with. Whether you are in a pool, a lake or the ocean, know what you’re dealing with. What kinds of marine life are in the water? What should you do when you run across these species? How are the currents looking? What would you do if you were caught between a rock and hard place? Have a plan, because in a split second knowing what to do and how to react can make the difference between swimming and sinking.
Know your limits: Males and young adults are often over confident in their swimming abilities. This can be dangerous because even the best swimmers can be overcome by extreme conditions. If you want to be risky and take chances do so with a life jacket and/or some sort of flotation device.

Don’t drink and swim: Far too often we hear about a party where everyone is drinking, swimming and having a great time. next thing you know someone notices someone is missing and can’t recall the last time they’ve seen them. As college students we need to be very careful of this because we tend to get a little out of hand. Watch out for your friends and yourself, and if someone is too drunk don’t just take their keys—take their swimming trunks too!

Never panic: In any real life situation panicking never helps. The same goes for swimming. If you are in a bad situation, panicking in the middle of open water is the last thing you should do. This makes it impossible for you to think your way out, and will cause you to drown very quickly because of the amount of energy you are expending. Always stop, tread water calmly, take deep breaths and think of the best way to get out of the situation.

Don’t swim with open wounds: Never swim with open wounds because in any public setting there is a possibility of your wound contaminating the water for other swimmers, or already contaminated water infecting your wound. Always make sure your wounds are fully healed before swimming. If this means you have to sit out of the fun for a few days or weeks, so be it. It is not worth the risk.

Be aware of where lifeguard posts are located: This is self-explanatory, but always make a mental note of where each lifeguard post is located and try to swim as close to them as possible. If there are no life guards on duty swim with a buddy. NEVER SWIM ALONE!

Look out for other swimmers: As human beings we always need to have each other’s backs. If you see people doing things that could be dangerous mention it to them and make them aware. If you see another swimmer having difficulties alert a lifeguard immediately. Unless you are a grade-A swimmer or the person is not panicking never interject yourself to help, because someone who is panicking will not only drown themselves but you also.