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NEWS | June 22, 2011

Swimming safety

By 628th Air Base Wing Safety Office

Nearly every year, the military ranks suffer losses due to drowning. Mishap locations vary from rivers and lakes to oceans and pools; some of the drowning victims are sober while others are impaired by alcohol. The bottom line is that tragic accidents happen quickly and the most common reason for water mishaps is a lack of water safety knowledge.

A recent American Red Cross survey shows that almost half the adults surveyed about water safety say they've had an experience where they nearly drowned and one in four has known someone who has drowned. While more than 90 percent of families with young children will be in the water at some point this summer, almost half (48 percent) plan to swim where there is no lifeguard. With so many people planning to be in, on or near the water, it is important to follow the basics of water safety; maintain constant supervision of children and get trained.

The American Red Cross recommends the following safety tips:

- Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.

- Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone.

- Ensure everyone in the family learns to swim well. Enroll in swimming instruction courses.

- Never leave a young child unattended near water and do not trust a child's life to another child; teach children to always ask permission to go near water.

- Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water but do not rely on life jackets alone.

- Swim with a wingman or shipmate every time. Even experienced swimmers have drowned. If you swim with someone, they will be able to help you out.

- Know your limits and don't overextend yourself. Take breaks and don't get fatigued far from shore.

- Swim in safe areas. A lifeguard can make the difference between life and death.

- Alcohol impairs. Please don't drink and swim.