Summer is here, and the allure of water becomes irresistible as children and adults alike are drawn to local creeks, rivers, lakes, ponds and pools.
Playing in the water can be fun, but it also can be dangerous or even deadly. This makes water safety a top priority for everyone.
The major concern is drowning with more than 3,600 in the U.S. each year. Drowning is the second leading cause of injury-related death for children from 1 to 9 years old, and is one of the top 10 causes of accidental death for both children and adults.
Drownings occur in a matter of seconds. Drowning is a quick and silent killer, contrary to what many people believe. A submerged person in the water within just four to six minutes can die or sustain permanent brain damage.
Another issue exists when amateur water enthusiasts try their luck in navigating local creeks and rivers during times of fast-moving currents caused by heavy rainfall. Kayak and canoe enthusiasts can miscalculate their ability in the extreme conditions, and end up stranded in the water and needing rescued.
The Jackson Township Fire Department so far this year has been dispatched to six swift-water-related incidents with multiple rescues involved. We have averaged six water-related emergency runs per year during the past five years.
This sadly puts us on track for 2019 to be our busiest year for water-related emergency dispatches yet.
Water-related rescues are one of the most dangerous disciplines our emergency medical services personnel respond to, so training and preparedness are essential.
We have more than 30 trained water-rescue personnel who work for Jackson Township Fire Department to assure that there are qualified rescuers ready 24/7 when needed.
Enjoying the water is an integral part of summer. To help everyone stay safe, follow these tips.
* Learn to swim, but keep in mind that lessons do not make you "drown-proof." Even experienced swimmers can and do drown.
* Provide adult supervision. Never leave a young child alone or with other children in the bathtub or near any body of water, including pools, ponds, rivers or lakes.
* Wear a personal flotation device such as a life jacket when near water. Never rely on "toys" such as inner tubes, air mattresses or water wings to stay afloat.
* Know the water. Water may be colder and deeper, and currents swifter than you realize. Very cold water can quickly overwhelm even the strongest swimmers. Also know what lies downstream; although the water may be calm where you are, conditions can change rapidly. Heed all warning signs.
* Know your limits. Even the best swimmers can misjudge their skills. Be prepared by wearing a life jacket at all times in the water.
* Install a fence around your pool, spa or pond. The fence should be at least 4 feet in height and have a self-closing and self-latching gate.
* Never mix alcohol with swimming, diving or boating. Alcohol impairs judgment, balance and coordination, and reduces the body's ability to stay warm.
* Always tell someone where you are going and when you plan to be home.
A good online source for safety tips on topics including electrical safety around swimming pools, hot tubs and spas is nfpa.org.
Please contact us at 614-875-5588 if you would like more information on water safety topics or the capabilities of the Jackson Township Fire Department.
Wishing you and yours a happy and safe summer.
Lt. Robert Schneider is EMS coordinator for the Jackson Township Fire Department.