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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, August 17, 2012
Contact:
Alan Provencher, Public Education Coordinator for Thurston County Medic One at (360) 704-2788

Cool Off and Stay Safe with Water Safety Tips


A day at the beach or on the lake is a great way to beat the near-record heat that's set in over Puget Sound, and following some simple water safety tips can keep your fun in the sun from taking a tragic turn. Learn about water safety tips for kids, for boating and floating, and special tips for swimming in open water, such as rivers, lakes and beaches.

WATER SAFETY FOR KIDS:
  • Wear a life jacket! The best way for kids and adults to stay safe on the water is to wear a life jacket that fits you well. Even strong swimmers can have accidents or emergencies, so insist that your child wear a life jacket. Even if your child knows how to swim, kids and teens should always wear a life jacket when on a boat, raft or innertube, swimming in open water like a lake or river, and when playing on a dock or near the water.

  • Always have an adult watch young swimmers at all times. Avoid alcohol and other distractions like texting or reading while supervising children, because children can drown quickly and quietly. For younger kids, adults should be within touching distance.

  • Teach your kids how to swim. While swimming lessons can help prevent your child from drowning, even kids who know how to swim should have adult supervision.

  • Learn CPR and bring a cell phone with GPS.

  • Don't get sunburned. Use sunscreen and reapply it often. Have your child wear a hat and swim clothes that cover arms and legs, like boardshorts and rashguard shirts.

  • Set and follow safety rules. Set boundaries, tell kids about behaviors that are off-limits, and bring them ashore often for sunscreen and drinking water.



BEACHES, LAKES & RIVERS:
  • Life jackets save lives! The best way for kids and adults to stay safe on the water is to wear a life jacket that fits you well.

  • The air may be hot, but the water is still cold. Many rivers and lakes in western Washington are fed by snow melt and glaciers, and the average water temperature for Puget Sound is only about 60 degrees. Stay close to shore and rest if you are cold or tired.

  • Always swim with a buddy, and swim where there are lifeguards when possible. Let friends and family know where you plan to swim and when you expect to return home.

  • Swimming in open water is harder than in a pool, and even strong swimmers will tire faster and get into trouble more quickly. Stay close to shore where rescuers can easily reach you in an emergency.

  • Rivers, lakes and beaches have hidden hazards. Watch out for sudden drop-offs, riptides and currents, rocks, logs and snags that are hidden underwater.

  • Stay sober and know your limits. Learn CPR and always take a cell phone with GPS.



BOATING & FLOATING:
  • Life jackets save lives! The best way for kids and adults to stay safe on the water is to wear a life jacket that fits you well.
    Boaters must have a Boater Education Card from Washington State Parks ( http://www.parks.wa.gov/boating/boatered/ ). It's the law.

  • Children 12 and under must wear a life jacket that fits them on moving boats less than 19 feet in length in Washington.

  • You must have one U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket for each person aboard your boat. This is a nationwide Coast Guard rule.

  • Take life jackets, a rescue device, a cell phone with GPS, and someone who knows CPR if you're boating, floating, paddling or water-skiing.

  • Innertubes, air-filled toys and foam toys are NOT the same as life jackets. Only U.S. Coast Guard-approved-life jackets are designed specifically to keep swimmers safe.

  • Don't boat or float in remote or rugged areas. Stay in areas where you can easily reach shore and where rescuers can reach you in an emergency.

  • Avoid alcohol and stay alert. Just like driving a car, Boating Under the Influence, or BUI, is against the law in Washington ( http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=79A.60.040 ).


    Do you need a life jacket before you hit the water? Safe Kids Thurston County has a life jacket loaner program, where you can borrow life jackets at no cost. The life jacket loaner program has life jackets in every size, from infant to adult, available at Kenneydell Park, Pioneer Park, and Millersylvania State Park. Visit www.SafeKidsThursonCounty.org for more information on the life jacket loaner program and other child safety information.

    Don't let the water make you sick. Blue-green algae, leeches, and swimmer's itch are just some of the things that can spoil the swimming fun. Learn more about avoiding swimming-related illnesses and simple swimming hygiene tips on the Thurston County Environmental Health web pages at www.co.thurston.wa.us/health/ehadm/swimming/illness_hazards .

    A list of swimming beaches and other water safety information is available on the Thurston County Environmental Health web pages at www.co.thurston.wa.us/health/ehadm/swimming/swimming_index.html.

    For additional tips and other water safety information, visit the Washington State Department of Health website at www.doh.wa.gov/CommunityandEnvironment/WaterRecreation/LakeRiverandBeachSafety.aspx.


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County Commissioners:

Carolina Mejia
District 1

Gary Edwards
District 2

Tye Menser
District 3