Summer is here and that means it’s time to get in the water! Beaches, springs, rivers, lakes, pools, and rain puddles there isn’t a limit for water activities in Florida. That’s why teaching our children (and reminding ourselves) the importance of water safety is critical. No matter how young or old, everyone should have a basic understanding of how to stay safe in and near the water as well as looking out for the safety of others. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ready.gov, and the American Red Cross all provide tips on staying safe in all types of water conditions. Here are a few to remember as water levels are high and summer water activities ramp up.
- Avoid flooded streets or water running across a road. Water is deceptive and is often deeper and stronger than it appears. Flood water poses drowning risks for everyone, regardless of their ability to swim. Swiftly moving shallow water can be deadly, and even shallow standing water can be dangerous for small children. Remember “Turn around, don’t drown!”
- Vehicles do not provide adequate protection from flood waters. They can be swept away or may stall in moving water.
- Roads may still be closed because they have been damaged or are covered by water. Barricades have been placed for your protection. If you come upon a barricade or a flooded road, go another way.
- Be alert and avoid contact with displaced animals, insects, and reptiles due to flood waters or storms.
- Be cautious if you have to cross standing waters as flood waters may contain sharp objects, such as glass or metal fragments, that can cause injury and lead to infection.
- Do not drink water from standing puddles or flooded areas as these may be contaminated and contain infectious diseases and/or chemicals.
- Avoid downed power lines, especially near water. The risk for electrical shock is even greater near water.
Water Activity Safety:
- Be cautious around natural bodies of water including ocean shoreline, rivers and lakes. Cold temperatures, currents and underwater hazards can make a fall into these bodies of water dangerous.
- Always wear a lifejacket when enjoying a watercraft activity.
- Maintain active supervision within arm’s length of children around any type of water. NEVER leave children unsupervised even for a minute!
- Be aware of current water and weather conditions such as approaching storms, tide times, undertow, currents, wind advisory, chop levels, sudden drop offs, etc.
- Stay vigilant of watercraft nearby when in the water. These crafts are bigger and move faster than you and often cannot spot a swimmer in the water until it is too late.
- While operating a watercraft, be aware of smaller craft and persons in the water. Look for buoys indicating a dive site as well.
- Never dive into a body of water unless the depth is known. Water is deceptive and is often deeper than it appears.
- Follow posted swimming guidelines and obey flags and orders of stationed lifeguards.
- No basic first aid and CPR procedures in case of an emergency.
- Never go into a body of water (man-made or natural) alone. Always make sure more than one person knows where you are and establish check-in times.
Originally published in our monthly column for the Madison Enterprise Recorder.