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Water activities can present hidden dangers so take precautions

Water activities can present hidden dangers so take precautions

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As a father of three children, I am pained every time I read or hear about a drowning or water-related accident here in Iredell County. My heart goes out to the five families who have lost loved ones this year to swimming or boating related incidents here in Iredell County.

The weather is very warm now and many people find relief in our lakes, rivers and swimming pools. They are among the best ways to beat the heat and have fun with our families and friends; however, this comfort comes with many hidden dangers.

The best thing anyone can do to stay safe in and around the water is to learn to swim. The Red Cross, YMCA and other organizations offer swimming courses for people of any age and swimming ability.

If no lifeguard is on duty or if there is no lifeguard at all, do not let children swim unless, they are accompanied by a responsible adult who knows lifesaving techniques and first aid. Make sure the adult who is watching after the young swimmers does not become distracted by talking on the telephone, or looking at a social media device.

Post CPR instructions and directions by road to your location to give to the 9-1-1 dispatcher in the event of an emergency. Look around the pool area to be certain lifesaving devices such as life rings, hooks, and other throwable lifesaving devices are readily available for emergency use.

Be sure covers are installed on all drains of a swimming pool or wading pools. The suction created by the pool’s circulating pumps can be very dangerous. Suction strength is reduced by placing covers over these openings.

If a child is missing, check the pool first. Go to the edge of the pool and scan the entire pool, bottom, and surface, as well as the surrounding pool area.

If you go swimming in a river, lake or ocean you have additional safety concerns to think about.

Always watch out for boats, personal watercraft and stay clear of them while swimming. If you are water skiing, knee boarding or tubing, wear a highly visible personal flotation device so you can found in the water if you fall off one of these.

Always swim in a supervised, marked area with a lifeguard present, and swim with others. Never swim alone.

Watch out for the "dangerous too's". I am too tired, too cold, too far from safety, too much sun, too much strenuous activity. Look for water that is reasonably clear and free of floating materials and odors. Avoid swimming at beaches where there are large populations of ducks, geese or gulls. The waste produced by these birds causes high bacteria levels in the water. Look for movement in the water; it helps keep the water clean. Never swim in stagnant or still water.

Do not swim at any beach right after a heavy rain. Runoff following a heavy rain may result in a high bacteria level. When diving at a beach, exercise extreme caution. Beach water is not as clear as water in a pool, so underwater obstructions may not be visible.

If you are caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current. Once you are free, turn and swim toward shore. If you cannot swim to the shore, float or tread water until you are free of the rip current and then head toward shore.

If you have any further questions about this topic, or have any questions about law enforcement related issues, please feel free to call me at 704-878-3180 or email me at decampbell@co.iredell.nc.us.

Darren Campbell is the sheriff of Iredell County.

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