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Editorial: Water tips make for smart, safe summer fun

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Summer is heating up, and many families will head to a lake, river, or backyard pool to celebrate and cool off.

But don’t let fun in the sun eclipse your efforts to remain safe.

About two weeks ago, a 2-year-old boy in Howard County drowned in his family’s backyard pool.

Closer to home, the tragic incident in early June that claimed the lives of two teens at the Big Blue River dam in Edinburgh remains a vivid reminder of how quickly harmless recreation can turn into tragedy.

But there have been other tragedies in the area this year. In May, a Bloomington man fell from his fishing boat on Sweetwater Lake and drowned. He was not wearing a life jacket.

In April, a Michigan man went kayaking with a friend on the Flat Rock River in Columbus. His kayak overturned, and the current pulled the him out of his craft. He was not wearing a life jacket and drowned.

Drowning claims nearly 3,000 lives every year, according to the National Safety Council, and not just at lakes and ponds but also backyard pools.

Summer is a time of fun and relaxation. But don’t be so relaxed that you forget to practice basic safety procedures.

Staying protected in the sun

The council offers these water safety tips:

  • Never leave a child alone near water, whether it’s on the beach, at a pool or in the bathtub. If you must leave, take your child with you.
  • Kids don’t drown only in pools. Bathtubs, buckets, toilets and backyard spas pose drowning dangers as well. Always follow posted safety precautions when visiting water parks.
  • If you’re visiting a public pool, keep an eye on your kids. Lifeguards aren’t baby sitters. And even at a pool, always swim with a buddy.
  • Don’t dive into unknown bodies of water. Jump feet first to avoid hitting your head on a shallow bottom.
  • Be prepared for an emergency. Always have a first-aid kit and emergency phone contacts handy. Parents should be trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
  • Watch the sun. The effects of the rays are intensified because they reflect off the water as well as shine directly.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to avoid becoming dehydrated. But remember that the combination of alcohol and swimming can lead to problems.
  • Always use approved personal flotation devices or life jackets.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of water. Rivers and lakes can have undertows.

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