Summer is finally heating up and that means people will be looking for ways to cool off.
One of the best ways is to be in or around the water.
With so much water around us, boating, swimming and lounging around the lake are very popular things to do this time of year.
Stay cool, but make sure to play it safe.
Here are a few facts to keep in mind when enjoying the area’s water world, according to the Washington State Department of Health.
* At this time of year, rivers are high and swift from spring run off and the water is very cold. Cold and swift water easily overwhelms even the strongest swimmers. Kayakers and canoeists also need to be prepared for swift water.
* Lakes and ponds are cold, too, and very attractive on warm spring days. Use caution and common sense when young children are playing near water.
* Swimming in open water is more difficult than swimming in a pool – people tire more quickly and can get into trouble.
* Stay sober when in the water – alcohol affects the intensity of weather, water and wave action.
* Swim in an area with a lifeguard, especially if you are not a strong swimmer. When boating, don’t overload the boat. Many people drown by falling overboard when fishing or pulling up a crab pot, so wear a life jacket when in small boats.
* Even the best swimmers can misjudge the water and their skills when boating or swimming; conditions change quickly in open water. Be prepared by wearing a life jacket at all times. If you go overboard, you won’t have time to find and put one on once you are in the water.
* Small children can easily wear a life jacket when playing by the water. This does not preclude supervision, but helps provide a layer of protection.
These are all common sense things to understand and execute; yet we always hear about water-related injuries or deaths every summer, especially to children and teens.
Each year, drowning accounts for an average of 25 deaths, 30 hospitalizations for near-drowning events and about 110 visits to the emergency room for Washington residents 17 and under, according to the Washington State Department of Health.
Let’s have fun this summer, but take the right precaution to avoid danger.