Engineer corps offers tips to prevent drowning

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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is asking people to play it safe while on, in or near water because drowning is a leading cause of death this time of year.

According to a news release, most people that drown would have survived if they had worn a life jacket. People are advised to choose a life jacket that fits properly and to wear it correctly.

“There is a life jacket for every kind of water activity including swimming,” the news release states. “One of the most comfortable life jackets for adult is a manual belt type inflatable life jacket. If you wear an inflatable life jacket make sure you know how it works, how to inflate it, inspect it before every use, how to rearm the CO2 cartridge and repack it properly.”

The news release also provides the following information to encourage safety:

Swimming in open water is different and more difficult than in a swimming pool. You can tire more quickly and get into trouble due to waves, current, lack of experience or exhaustion. Even the best swimmers can misjudge their skills and abilities while swimming in a lake or river. Conditions can change quickly in open water, so before entering the water, please wear a life jacket. While wearing a life jacket you will not use as much energy, it will help you float, and most importantly it will be there when and if you ever really need it.

Every year people lose their lives because they were encouraged to do something, such as swim across a lake or off a cliff. Never encourage anyone to do these types of activities. Swim in designated areas and encourage each other to wear a life jacket.

While on or near the water watch out for each other at all times. It only takes 20 seconds for a child to drown and 60 seconds for an adult to drown. It is a misconception that if someone is drowning they will yell for help. Several people drown every year within 10 feet of safety because the people around them were not paying attention and did not recognize the signs of drowning, which can resemble someone just playing in the water. The signs include head back, mouth open gasping for air, no yelling or sound, and arms slapping the water like they are trying to climb out of the water. Properly rescuing someone should never include contact with them unless you are a trained lifeguard. Reach out to the victim with something to keep your distance or throw them something that floats to pull them to safety.

Avoid prolonged breath holding activities and games while swimming or in the water because it can lead to shallow water blackout, which results from low oxygen to the brain. Shallow water blackout can affect anyone who is breath-holding, even physically fit swimmers. It is especially seen in competitive swimmers, snorkelers or anyone that free-dives. It can also occur when kids or people of any age play games to see how long they can hold their breath underwater or someone that does not know how to breathe properly when swimming.

Boaters or those swimming near boats should be aware that carbon monoxide is an odorless, invisible and silent killer that is another reason why wearing a life jacket is so important. Carbon monoxide can accumulate anywhere in or around your boat. It is heavier than air and lighter than water so it floats on the water’s surface. Early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include eye irritation, headache, nausea, weakness and dizziness. One breath of carbon monoxide at the water’s surface can cause you to pass out and drown. Avoid areas where exhaust fumes may be present. Do not let anyone swim under or around the boarding platform.

Learn more at www.PleaseWearIt.com.

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