Grove City Record

Water safety key for summer enjoyment

Township ready to help with rescues but best to keep a few tips in mind to avoid danger

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The dog days of summer have arrived, and with them often come plans for heading to a nearby pool.

Given that accidents can happen quickly, the Jackson Township Fire Division has advice and safety guidelines for people looking to cool off in the water.

"Be a good swimmer," firefighter/paramedic Bob Schneider said. "Use common sense."

Schneider is one of 16 certified swift-water rescue technicians with the township's fire division. He also is an instructor with the Ohio Water Technical Advisory Committee.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention notes that drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of accidental deaths in the United States.

"On average, about 10 people die per day in the United States from drowning," said Schneider, adding many of them are young children, especially boys.

Schneider said the family pool or hot tub should have barriers. Toys and other objects that might lure a child toward water should be kept off the deck; but whether at home or out, children need to be watched around water.

"Supervision is key," he said. "Never let kids go alone."

Schneider added that adults shouldn't swim or boat alone, either.

"You should always swim with a buddy, even if there are lifeguards there," he said. "Don't swim alone."

They also shouldn't be drinking.

"Alcohol and water don't mix," Schneider said. "People just make bad decisions."

People also need to be mindful of others with seizure disorders, he added.

But even accomplished swimmers can become drowning victims, Schneider said, especially in cold or moving water where underwater objects can trap them.

"Stay out of it," he said regarding moving water. "It becomes very dangerous when the water's up. It covers things."

Boating in moving water should be limited to designated areas and under the supervision of someone who is trained and certified, and even then, precautions should be taken, Schneider said.

"Any time you're in or around moving water, you need to wear a PFD (personal floatation device), adult or child," he said.

Designated swim areas do not include quarries.

"Stay out of quarries," Schneider said. "The water temperature is so much colder. Even great swimmers can cramp up in cold water."

Jackson Township's fire division holds two sessions a month for people to learn CPR, first-aid and how to use an automatic external defibrillator, all of which can help in a water-related emergency.

Schneider said people need to always be alert, look for signs of drowning, such as someone bobbing up and down or panicking.

If someone can't be seen, the first place to look is the water, he said.

If someone is in trouble, "Call 911 if you aren't a good swimmer," Schneider said.

Jackson Fire is equipped for water rescues, using a station boat to respond to between four and six calls a year and performing an average one to four live rescues at places such as Battelle Darby Creek in Pleasant Township and on the Scioto River.

"We are not certified to go under and dive," Schneider said, adding that dives are conducted by the Franklin County Sheriff's Department and the city of Columbus. "That's more for body recovery."

For more information about water safety or to schedule a safety class, call the Jackson Township Fire Division at 614-875-5588.

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