Do Your Part, Be Water Smart

By Andrea M. Cohick, Lawyer at Metzger Wickersham

With summer weather finally here, the sun, sand, and water may be part of everyone’s top ten ways to spend the day relaxing. Swimming and other water sports are a great way to beat the heat and more people – especially children – are flocking to pools, lakes, rivers and oceans. But before you dive in, learn a little bit about water safety.

Simply follow these five valuable tips so that you and your family can have a fun summer filled with safe swimming, boating and water tubing.

  1. Buddy up, never swim alone – Swimming where a lifeguard is on duty is the best way to ensure everyone’s safety. If a lifeguard is not available, be sure to use a buddy system, preferably with a parent or a guardian.
  2. Wear life vests – Children or inexperienced swimmers should always use a life vest. Wearing a life jacket (also known as a personal flotation device, or PFD) is the law in some states for certain age groups, and you could face a stiff penalty for breaking it, according to The Nemours Foundation. Your state may also require that you wear an approved life jacket for water skiing and other on-water activities. Wearing a PFD is like wearing a helmet while biking. It may take a few minutes to get used to it, but it definitely can be a lifesaver. Don't leave land without it.
  3. Reach, throw, don’t goThe YMCA recommends that if you see a person struggling in the water, while the instinct is to jump in to help, the best thing to do is to use a long object to pull the swimmer to safety or throw a flotation device so that the swimmer has something to grab onto. Jumping into the water could result in a panicked swimmer pulling both people underwater.
  4. Enter water feet first – Severe injuries can result when a swimmer dives into a body of water head first. If it is unclear as to the depth of the water, whether there may be any hidden objects such as rocks or trees, or if there is not a designated diving area, always enter the water feet first.
  5. Avoid using alcohol – Alcohol will impair judgment, coordination and balance, it can also affect a person’s ability to swim or operate a water vehicle safely. Additionally, the Pennsylvania legislature is moving to pass a measure that would make the penalties for people driving a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs similar to those imposed for driving a car under the influence.

Most people don't think much about water safety, but drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death. So don't let paying attention to safety turn you off. Being prepared will make you feel more comfortable and in charge.

If you are injured while swimming, boating, or practicing other water sports, consult with the attorneys at Metzger Wickersham to consider your options. We will answer your questions and provide legal advice during a no-cost case evaluation. Call us at (888)-286-2850 or email us to schedule your free consultation today.

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