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Stay safe this summer while on the water - tips everyone should know


August 6, 2014  | View PDF

Tiana Little On Lake Stevens

Summer is in full swing with bright and sunny warm days, encouraging families to stay cool in and around the water. Enjoying your summer days around the water can be fun, but it can turn deadly quickly if you don't take the proper precautions. Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death for children ages 17 and under. Others at-risk are young adults aged 20-29, and men ages 44-64. About 80 percent of drownings in Washington State are in open waters such as rivers, lakes, ponds, and salt water. These bodies of water typically do not have supervision and can be unpredictable.

Last year, statewide there were 70 submersions and only 14 survived. The majority of drownings and near drownings occurred during May and June, followed by July and August. Drowning incidents most frequently occurred in rivers and lakes, which are considered open waters.  The majority of drowning victims were documented to be in the 10-19 and 20-29 year old age range, which tends to be the age range where life jacket usage drops off.

Lake Stevens Fire Public Educator Jennye Cooper commented, "When it comes to preventing drownings, there are three key parts that need to be considered. An awareness of precaution, active supervision with no distractions, (meaning no cells phones, other electronic devices, or books), and consistent usage of a life jacket. These three parts of water safety are essential."

Lake Stevens Fire, Lake Stevens Police, and Safe Kids Snohomish County encourage families to stay safe this summer around the water and take the following precautions:

Supervision Is Key to Safety: Always designate an adult to supervise your child/teen at all times. Drowning is silent and most drownings occur during lapse of supervision.

Know Your Limits: No matter how good a swimmer you are, it is easy to misjudge the water or your skills.  If you are tired, rest and stay out of the water. Drowning happens to even the strongest swimmers who become too tired to make it back to shore.  

Beware of Rivers: Many lakes and rivers are cold enough to cause hypothermia, even in the summer. Calm rivers can hide dangerous undercurrents, rocks and tree branches. Rivers are unpredictable and should be avoided.

Wear a Life Jacket:  Even strong swimmers can benefit from a life jacket. Wear a life jacket when swimming, boating, inner tubing or rafting. Play toys such as water wings, air mattresses and swim noodles are not safety devices.

Learn What To Do In an Emergency:  Respond quickly when someone appears to be in trouble. Know your location and contact medical personnel - call 911 immediately. Learn CPR.


Reader Comments


onthelake writes:

Informative article, but what are the rules/law regarding life jackets,, i.e. age requirements, if you're in a canoe or kayak, what about paddle boards, inside your own dockline, etc.