DNR offers water safety tips for holiday weekend

People are heading to the beaches, lakes and pools around Minnesota looking for a little relief from soaring summer temperatures and humidity.

Unfortunately, as cool and refreshing as it may look, water can be a killer.

“Many people are ready for some fun in the water,” said Tim Smalley, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) boat and water safety specialist. “But people need to remember that even though water is fun, it can be deadly to the careless or clueless.”

The DNR offers these tips to help make it a safer summer in Minnesota:

* Wear your life vest when boating. Most boat-related drownings happen to people who can swim, but aren’t wearing life vests at the time of the accident.

* If you are going to watch fireworks from your boat, make sure your running lights are working before you leave the dock. Switch them on at sunset. There are collisions every year after fireworks shows because a boater didn’t check their lights before dark.
* Drowning is often silent, occurs within minutes, and often when help is nearby. Don’t bury your head in a book at the beach or pool when children are near the water. Watch them the whole time. Children can slip away and escape your notice – and they are unable to cry out for help while they are drowning.
* Take swimming lessons and make sure your children do too. Many local parks and recreation departments, community schools and the American Red Cross offer swimming lessons, even for adults.
* Don’t swim from a boat anchored in deep water without a life vest no matter how good of a swimmer you think you are.
* Swim with a buddy. Even adults can get into trouble in the water and if no one is there to help, drowning can be the outcome.
* Swim in a designated swimming area with lifeguards whenever possible and do not swim outside the swimming area markers.
* Don’t rely on plastic arm “floaties,” inner tubes or water toys to save your child’s life. Those items may deflate and can slip off. The only flotation device your child should be using is a U.S. Coast Guard approved life vest. Recently-approved child’s models include bathing suits with built in life vests.
* Know how to rescue a drowning person without putting yourself at risk. Throw a floating object or extend something like a paddle, towel or other item to the victim, so if they start to pull you in, you can release it to try another form of rescue. Only attempt a swimming rescue if you are properly trained in lifesaving techniques.
* Call 911 in an emergency. You can always cancel your call if it turns out to be a false alarm.
* If a person has been totally submerged in water and then recovered, insist they seek medical attention. A small amount of inhaled impure water can cause severe lung infections and even death if untreated.
* Learn child and adult CPR.
* Alcohol and water don’t mix. Booze and beer are two of the greatest dangers while swimming or boating. And never drink alcohol while supervising children.

For more tips on boat and water safety, call the DNR at 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367; or e-mail boatandwater@dnr.state.mn.us.

news.dnr.state.mn.us/index.php/2009/06/25/dnr-offers-water-safety-tips-for-holiday-weekend-2/

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