Our Opinion: Water recreation — Don’t let treat become threat

News Tribune editorial

Ten drownings thus far in June is a terrible toll.

Although we document drowning deaths in the News Tribune as they occur, we confess we were surprised when the State Highway Patrol renewed its call for caution, citing 10 drownings in a month that continues through Monday.

Water activities — swimming, boating, floating — provide both recreation and relief from summer heat.

We must remember, however, water is not a natural environment for people. The river, lake or pool is a treat that quickly may pose a threat.

Some common-sense advice from the patrol bears repeating. Among tips for swimming and floating:

• Safety in numbers applies. Swim with a buddy, not alone. And supervise all children, regardless of age, in or near water.

• Exhaustion is a real concern. Don’t overestimate you ability or underestimate distances. Remember, alcohol consumption results in impaired judgment and unrealistic evaluations.

• Be aware of surroundings. Currents, aquatic life, drop-offs and floating debris are among variables that may pose threats.

• Wear a life jacket. The patrol encourages use of a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket, especially for young children and inexperienced swimmers.

• If you capsize during a float trip, hold onto the craft and move immediately to the upstream side to avoid being trapped between the boat and an obstacle. Float on your back, feet together and pointed downstream. Gradually work your way to the shore. Release the craft only if it improves your safety.

• Learn basic water rescue techniques. When attempting a rescue, remember the adage of “Reach, Throw, Row, Go for Help.” We all have read about unprepared rescuers being caught in the same dangerous situation and also becoming victims. Regardless of urgency, rescuers are advised to put on a life jacket before going into the water.

• Avoid being “too” — too tired, too drunk, too much sun, too far from safety, too much strenuous activity.

Too many drowning deaths are occurring, because too many people are failing to follow basic safety advice.

Next time you go into the water, bring plenty of awareness.

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