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Swimming Safety and Accident Prevention

Heavy and persistent rain wreaked havoc on Austin recently, causing flooding and overall dangerous conditions. Although the hazardous weather has stopped, water conditions in places such at Lake Austin and Barton Creek have remained risky. High water levels and harsh currents at the Barton Creek Greenbelt have caused the deaths of 3 individuals within a 10 day period, and many areas were recently closed to swimmers and boaters. Although all areas are now reopened, conditions are still not ideal.

Austin Swimming Safety Tips

swimming safetyEvery day around 10 people die from unintentional drowning incidents. 2 out of 10 of these deaths are children under 14. In an attempt to decrease drowning fatalities and prevent swimming accidents, please read some tips to ensure your swim is risk free:

  1. Swim in the Presence of a Lifeguard: All of the fatal accidents in Austin occurred in areas without a lifeguard present. Maybe you feel you are a strong swimmer and don't need to swim with someone watching over you, but having a lifeguard present greatly decreases the risk of drowning. The United States Lifesaving Association calculated that the chance of a person drowning while attending a beach protected by USLA affiliated lifeguards is only 1 in 18 million.
  2. Swim with a Buddy: Never swim alone, especially if you are in an area without a lifeguard. Having a friend with you, especially if that friend is a strong swimmer, will make you much safer. One of the recent drowning victims, Ceazar Kainz, was a strong swimmer and lifeguard, but left his friends to swim alone. This tragic loss shows that even if you are a great swimmer, rough conditions can prove fatal, and you should always swim in the presence of another.
  3. Protect Your Children: Of course this is a no brainer - but protecting your children when it comes to water safety requires more than watching them in the water. Yes, always maintain constant supervision when your child is swimming, but also make sure you do the following:
    • Make sure your children are wearing life jackets that fit perfectly, because a poorly fitting life jacket could also do more harm than good. Do not use water wings or air-filled swimming aids instead. These can get punctured, unplugged, or deflate, leaving your child in danger.
    • Have your kids start swim lessons at an early age and wear life vests until they are deemed ready to swim on their own. Children under 13 must always wear life vests on a boat, as is required under Texas Law, but make sure they wear life vests even when swimming if they are still not strong swimmers.
    • Make sure to teach your children not to approach any body of water unsupervised. Statistics show that many children that drown in home pools are only out of sight for around 5 minutes. By teaching your child that water can be dangerous, they will learn to exercise caution, even went briefly left alone.
    • If you have a home pool, make sure it secure it with barriers if you have young children. For barriers, check out the Sentry Safety Pool Fence.
  4. Drink Accordingly: Exhaustion is a common cause of drowning fatalities, because some people think they can swim more than they are physical able. But dehydration is also a common cause of drowning, so make sure you are drinking a lot of water and not pushing your body too hard. Also please avoid alcohol when swimming. Alcohol is known to increase your chances of injury by placing you in high risk situations. Combine reckless behavior with swimming, and you get more drowning fatalities.
  5. Know Your Depth: Many people jump or dive into bodies of water without checking how deep it is. This results in many head injuries that often lead to drowning incidents. Don't dive into an area that is under 9 feet deep, and always check before diving.
  6. Don't Eat and Swim: That whole "don't eat right before you swim" bit your parents used to tell you is not a joke. Cramping, especially when treading water or swimming a far distance can be incredibly dangerous. Even eating or chewing gum while in a pool or swimming commonly leads to choking.
  7. Watch the Sky: Is it getting cloudy? Does it look like rain? Is it starting to drizzle? Well then get out of the water. Bad weather, like we recently experienced, causes water levels to rise and waves to become vicious. Is it getting dark out? Time to get out, because chances are the lifeguard is no longer on duty, and if you are swimming in an unlit area, you have a much higher risk of drowning. Not only that, but if someone tries to save you, the unlit water will make it very difficult for them to locate you. So instead of chancing either of these dangerous situations, check the weather before you swim, and always stop swimming before the night hits.
  8. Get CPR Certified: Yes, CPR won't save you if you're unconscious, but you could save others. This is when the buddy system comes back into play. If you are swimming with a friend, and you both are CPR certified, you are both much safer and can help each other if the situation calls for it. Many places around Austin can get you CPR certified. Check out Austin CPR Experts, an authorized American Heart Association training center.

Please swim with caution this summer. Contact Rhett Hoestenbach if you need representation in a personal injury case, whether that be in or out of the water.

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