By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – Public safety personnel are cautioning residents that with the warmer days of spring, rivers and lakes are still very cold and pose dangers, such as hypothermia.
Lewis County Fire District 5 Lt. Laura Hanson says life jackets and other personal flotation devices are recommended and reminds parents that children should be closely supervised by an adult at all times while swimming and near water.
Coupons for 25 percent off life jackets are available now through Big 5 Sporting Goods, in partnership with Washington State Drowning Prevention Network, Safe Kids Washington, and the Spokane Regional Health District.
Hanson, on behalf of area public safety agencies, reminds the public that new underwater hazards such as limbs and logs can be expected to have been created over the winter.
Personal flotation devices are required for all children under the age of 12 on boats 19 feet or shorter, according to Hanson.
In Washington state, an average of 25 children and teens drown every year, according to the Washington State Drowning Prevention Network. Most of them are swimming, boating or just playing in or near water.
“Safe recreation and accident prevention is a concern for your local responders and is the responsibility of everyone,” Hanson states in a news release.
She offered a safety checklist, from the Centers from Disease Control:
Tips to help you stay safe in the water:
• Supervise When in or Around Water. Designate a responsible adult to watch young children while in the bath and all children swimming or playing in or around water. Supervisors of preschool children should provide “touch supervision”, be close enough to reach the child at all times. Because drowning occurs quickly and quietly, adults should not be involved in any other distracting activity (such as reading, playing cards, talking on the phone, or mowing the lawn) while supervising children, even if lifeguards are present.
• Use the Buddy System. Always swim with a buddy. Select swimming sites that have lifeguards when possible.
• Seizure Disorder Safety. If you or a family member has a seizure disorder, provide one-on-one supervision around water, including swimming pools. Consider taking showers rather than using a bath tub for bathing. Wear life jackets when boating.
• Learn to Swim. Formal swimming lessons can protect young children from drowning. However, even when children have had formal swimming lessons, constant, careful supervision when children are in the water, and barriers, such as pool fencing to prevent unsupervised access, are still important.
• Learn Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). In the time it takes for paramedics to arrive, your CPR skills could save someone’s life.
• Air-Filled or Foam Toys are not safety devices. Don’t use air-filled or foam toys, such as “water wings”, “noodles”, or inner-tubes, instead of life jackets. These toys are not life jackets and are not designed to keep swimmers safe.
• Avoid Alcohol. Avoid drinking alcohol before or during swimming, boating, or water skiing. Do not drink alcohol while supervising children.
• Don’t let swimmers hyperventilate before swimming underwater or try to hold their breath for long periods of time. This can cause them to pass out (sometimes called “shallow water blackout”) and drown.
• Know how to prevent recreational water illnesses. For more information about illnesses from recreational water, see the More Information section.
• Know the local weather conditions and forecast before swimming or boating. Strong winds and thunderstorms with lightning strikes are dangerous.