OMAHA, Neb. – More public recreation fatalities occur in July than any other month, so the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) asks you to please play it safe while on, in, or near the water because drowning is a leading cause of death this time of year. USACE public recreation fatality statistics show that 88 percent were male, 89 percent were not wearing a life jacket, and 47 percent were swimming in areas not designated as a swimming area.
Most people that drown would have survived if they had worn a life jacket. Life jackets come in many styles, sizes, and colors. Choose the right one that fits you properly and make sure to wear it correctly. There is a life jacket for every kind of water activity including swimming. One of the most comfortable life jackets for adult swimmers to wear is a manual belt type inflatable life jacket. If you wear an inflatable life jacket of any kind make sure you know how it works, how to inflate it, inspect it before every use, how to rearm the CO2 cartridge, and repack it properly.
Here are some more tips to help you have a safe and enjoyable time this summer. Swimming in open water is different and more difficult than in a swimming pool. You can tire more quickly and get into trouble due to waves, current, lack of experience, exhaustion, or your abilities to swim as long as you use to have decreased. You could find yourself in a situation where you are fighting for your life. Even the best swimmers can misjudge their skills and abilities while swimming in a lake or river. Conditions can change quickly in open water, so before entering the water, please wear a life jacket. While wearing a life jacket you will not use as much energy, it will help you float, and most importantly it will be there when and if you ever really need it.
Every year several people lose their lives because they were encouraged to do something, such as swim across a lake, cove or pond, out to the nearest buoy, to retrieve a beach ball or something else that floated away or some other activity like jumping off a cliff or bridge. Your actions can have deadly consequences, so you should never encourage anyone to do these types of activities. Friends should do things like swim in designated areas and encourage each other to wear a life jacket.
While on or near the water watch out for each other at all times. It only takes 20 seconds for a child to drown and 60 seconds for an adult to drown. It is a misconception that if someone is drowning they will yell for help. Several people drown every year within 10 feet of safety because the people around them were not paying attention and did not recognize the signs of drowning. The signs of drowning can resemble someone just playing in the water. The signs include head back, mouth open gasping for air, no yelling or sound, and arms slapping the water like they are trying to climb out of the water. Properly rescuing someone should never include contact with them unless you are a trained lifeguard. Reach out to the victim with something to keep your distance or throw them something that floats to pull them to safety.
Avoid prolonged breath holding activities and games while swimming or in the water because it can lead to shallow water blackout. Shallow water blackout results from low oxygen to the brain. A person basically “blacks out” or faints in the water. Shallow water blackout can affect anyone who is breath-holding, even physically fit swimmers. It is especially seen in competitive swimmers, snorkelers, or anyone that free-dives. It can also occur when kids or people of any age play games to see how long they can hold their breath underwater or someone that does not know how to breathe properly when swimming.
Boaters or those swimming near boats should be aware that carbon monoxide is an odorless, invisible, and silent killer that clarifies another reason why wearing a life jacket is so important. Carbon monoxide can accumulate anywhere in or around your boat regardless of what type of boat you have. It is heavier than air and lighter than water, so it floats on the water’s surface. Early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include eye irritation, headache, nausea, weakness, and dizziness. One breath of carbon monoxide at the water’s surface can cause you to pass out and drown. Avoid areas where exhaust fumes may be present. Do not let anyone swim under or around the boarding platform because this silent killer could be waiting for them.
Increased water safety awareness can help ensure that you and your loved ones have fun this summer and return home safely. Always remember to wear a life jacket because it could save your life or the life of someone you love. Life Jackets Worn…Nobody Mourns. Learn more at www.PleaseWearIt.com.