The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Opinion

June 17, 2014

Editorial: Teen tragedy a reminder of importance of swim safety

It’s a tragedy played out across the nation each and every summer.

A person, young or old, perishes while enjoying the refreshing waters of a pool, river or lake. Families are left to deal with the heartbreaking pain of an unnecessary and preventable death.

It’s a pain that the community of Franklin, Ind., knows all too well right now. Residents there are reeling after the loss of two local teenagers who died last week trying to save another from the turbulent waters near a dam.

It’s a grim reminder that the consequences of one of our favorite summer pastimes can be deadly. And an opportunity to once again emphasize the importance of water safety.

The first guideline of water safety seems obvious: Don’t swim where “No swimming” signs are posted. Often areas marked in this way — old gravel pits, the rapids near dams — are tempting to young daredevils. But the dangers are often hidden.

Secondly, learn to swim and don’t depend on flotation devices to save you. Learning basic swimming skills as a child can help prevent drowning, the leading cause of injury-related death in children. Swim lessons, according to one study, can reduce risk of drowning by 88 percent.

Other important guidelines include only swimming while supervised by lifeguards, never swimming alone or in the dark, using proper flotation devices, paying attention to depth markers, not diving or jumping into shallow areas, leaving the water at the first sign of a storm and following posted rules.

Also, remember to drink plenty of water and fluids so you don’t become dehydrated. Dehydration can lead to cramping, hampering your ability to swim or tread water.

In addition, be mindful of the other dangers associated with swimming.

Always wear plenty of sunscreen and avoid the afternoon sun to prevent skin cancer. Wear sunglasses and a hat.

Take precautions to prevent recreational water illnesses, including gastrointestinal, skin, ear, respiratory, eye and wound infections. Avoid getting water in your mouth. Don’t swim if you’re sick. And always practice good hygiene before entering the water.

Enjoy the water this summer. And mind the rules. It could save your life.

More online To read more about swimming safety, visit heraldbulletin.com and search for "swimming safety."

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