Open Water Safety

The chilly air and wind in February and March makes us know winter is still here, but there are signs of spring in the longer days of sunshine.  You might be making  summer plans for activities near water such as boating or beaching, or preparing for a triathlon swim.  However, keep in mind that open water is a powerful force that we should respect.  We can’t always avoid every danger inherent in open water, but there are some we can learn to handle better such as rip currents that account for 80 percent of beach rescues.

They are powerful, channeled currents of water flowing away from shore that quickly pull swimmers out to sea. Rip currents typically extend from the shoreline, through the surf zone, and past the line of breaking waves. The best way to stay safe is to recognize the danger of rip currents. If caught in one, don't fight it! Swim parallel to the shore and swim back to land at an angle. Always remember to swim at beaches with lifeguards. (National Ocean Service)

Also, in summer months, electrical storms occur frequently so be alert.  At the first sound of thunder or sighting of lighting, get out of the water and move to a building.  Wait 30 minutes after the last sounds or sightings to re-enter the water and always wait for lifeguards to give the OK when they are supervising the beach, lake, or pool area. 

Whether boating, water skiing, paddle boarding, or jet skiing, a PFD (Personal Flotation Device) is necessary equipment.  Be sure to wear the proper type and best fit U.S. Coast Guard approved device.  While safety practices and equipment are essential for open water activities, children and adults will benefit from learning to swim and becoming strong swimmers to protect themselves and react in aiding another person in an emergency.