Oswego County Public Information Office, 46 East Bridge St., Oswego, NY 13126

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August 2, 2010

Enjoy Summer the Safe Way

OSWEGO - The barbecues are lit and the bathing suits are out. While everyone is enjoying the warm weather, the Oswego County Health Department encourages residents to enjoy the season safely by making sure that everyone is safe in and around the water. Drowning claims the lives of more than 4,000 people every year and most of these deaths can be prevented.

Children up to four years of age have the highest death rate due to drowning. In most cases, a drowning or near-drowning experience can occur quickly, for instance when a child falls into a pool or is left alone in the bathtub.

"Constant adult supervision is the best way to keep young children safe in and around the water," said Dr. Dennis Norfleet, Public Health Director for the Oswego County Health Department.

Dr. Norfleet advises following these water safety rules:

  • Never swim alone. Always swim with a "buddy."

  • Never leave a child unattended near water at the pool, the beach or in the tub. A tragedy can occur in seconds.

  • Parents should keep an eye on their own small children, even if a lifeguard is present.

  • Children and inexperienced swimmers should take precautions such as wearing a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device when near the water.

  • Do not use air-filled swimming aids, such as water wings, in place of personal flotation devices.

  • Do not overestimate swimming ability or underestimate water depth. Currents can be deceiving and dangerous, posing a risk for even the strongest swimmers.

  • Do not dive into unknown bodies of water. Jump feet first to avoid hitting your head on a shallow bottom.

  • Enter headfirst only when the area is clearly marked for diving.

  • Do not mix alcohol with swimming, diving or boating. Alcohol impairs judgment, balance and coordination, and affects swimming and diving skills.

Other safety precautions include proper fencing around your swimming pool and adult supervision when it is in use. Be sure to remove toys from in and around the pool area when it is not in use.

Power or manual covers will completely cover a pool and block access to the water, but be sure to drain any standing water from the surface of the pool cover. A child can drown in very small amounts of water.

"Enroll children in swimming classes taught by qualified instructors when they are over the age of four or are developmentally ready. Keep in mind that lessons don't make your child 'drown-proof'," Dr. Norfleet said.

When you are in or around water, watch out for the dangerous "too's" - too tired, too cold, too far from safety, too much sun, too much strenuous activity.

Try to be knowledgeable about the water environment you are in and its potential hazards. Deep and shallow areas, currents, depth changes, obstructions and entry and exit points are all important to note.

Pay attention to local weather conditions and forecasts. Exit the water at the first clap of thunder. Remember, where there is thunder, there is lightning.

Parents should always have a first-aid kit and phone with service handy and be trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

For more information on water safety call the Oswego County Health Department at 315-349-3545.

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