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How to Stay Safe on the Water this Summer

man putting life jacket on woman for water safety

One of the many benefits of living in the U.P. is having access to the great lakes and inland lakes. On a hot day, cars can be seen lined up at beaches and packing parks across our area with people looking to cool down. While water can be a source of relief, it can also be dangerous. In just a quick moment, a child or weak swimmer can drown. The time it takes to send a text or apply sunscreen is all it takes. Knowing how to keep every member of your family safe is important before heading out on the water. 

According to the American Red Cross, being water competent is how you and your family can improve water safety. Water competency has 3 main components: water smarts, swimming skills, and helping others. 

Water smarts are when sensible precautions are taken when you and your family are around water. This includes knowing your limitations, never swimming alone, wearing a life jacket while boating, swimming sober, and learning how to call for help. Heading out in the natural water requires different knowledge and skills than in a pool. Be prepared and watch for the following:

  • Unexpected changes in air or water temperature

  • Thunder and lightning

    • Leave the water immediately

    • Stay inside an enclosed area for at least 30 minutes after the last thunderclap

  • Fast-moving currents, waves and rapids, even in shallow water

  • Hazards such as dams, rocks, or debris

  • Drop-offs that can unexpectedly change water depth

  • Other people’s activities in the same waters like boating

There are five different skills that everyone should learn how to perform in each different type of water environment. These skills are as follows:

  1. Enter water that’s over your head, then return to the surface.

  2. Float or tread water for at least 1 minute.

  3. Turn over and turn around in the water.

  4. Swim at least 25 yards.

  5. Exit the water. 

By being able to help others your family can avoid an emergency and help you respond if an emergency occurs. Below are ways you can help others when out on the water.

  • Pay close attention to children or weak swimmers when you are in or near water

  • Know the signs that someone is drowning

  • Know the ways to safely assist a drowning person, such as “reach or throw, don’t go.”

  • Know CPR and first aid

One of the best ways to protect your family is to ensure everyone learns how to swim. Through the cooperation of Rudyard Area Schools, Consolidated Community Schools Services, and the Rudyard Pool Committee, lap swimming is available, and swimming lessons may return to the pool in the near future. Visit ccss.eupschools.org for more information. The Marquette Area YMCA offers swimming lessons for children ages 6 months to 12 years. For more information on their programs, you can call 906.227.9622.