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Water Safety

Swimming is one of the most popular summer activities in the Low Country. The best thing you can do is make sure everyone in your family learns how to swim. Even if you do not plan on swimming, be cautious around natural bodies of water such as the ocean, lakes, ponds and lagoons. Here a few tips for staying safe around water.

Swimmers

Since most drowning victims had no intention of being in the water and  most people drown within 10-30 feet of safety, it is important to know how to swim. Never rely on float toys to stay afloat.

Don't take chances overestimating your swimming skills. Swim only in designated areas and never swim alone. No one can anticipate changing ocean currents, riptides, sudden storms or other hidden dangers.

What's A Riptide?

Actually it's an ocean current that has nothing to do with the tides. A rip current happens as water that's built up on shore returns to the ocean (all those waves need to go somewhere!). Rip currents are often found near fixed objects, like piers and reefs, which is why these are "no swimming" areas. If you swim into a rip current (you'll feel it pulling you out to sea), don't panic. Swim parallel to shore until you feel the pull stop. You can then swim back to shore.

Divers

Be careful about diving. Teens are more likely than any other age group to suffer diving injuries, many of which can result in permanent spinal cord damage or death. Only dive in areas that are known to be safe for diving, such as the deep end of a supervised pool. A "no diving" sign means that the water isn't safe for a head-first entry.

Watch Children

Each year about 200 children drown and several thousand others are treated in hospitals for submersion accidents, accidents which leave children with permanent brain damage and respiratory health problems. Remember, it only takes a few seconds for a small child to wander away. Children have a natural curiosity and attraction to water.

Cold Water Survival

Hypothermia is a condition in which the body loses heat faster than it can produce it. Violent shivering develops which may give way to confusion and a loss of body movement. If you fall in the water, in any season, hypothermia may occur. It's important to remember:

  • Don't discard clothing. Clothing layers provide some warmth. This includes shoes and hats.
  • Wear your life jacket! This helps hold heat into the core areas of your body.

No Acohol

Unfortunately many people ignore this warning and each year about 3000 of them are wrong...dead wrong.  More than half of all people that drown had consumed alcohol prior to their accident. Just one beer will impair your balance, vision, judgment and reaction time, therefore making you a danger to yourself and others.

Have fun this summer and stay water safe!

Learn more about Drowning Safety

For additional tips please contact Cinda Seamon, Fire & Life Safety Educatoremail icon, Hilton Head Island Fire & Rescue, 843-682-5141.