Health & Safety

May 24, 2013

Water can be friend or foe – it depends on you

Water is necessary to sustain life. Without water, humans could not survive for more than a few days.

However, water can also be deadly. Under the wrong circumstances, people, especially infants, have drowned in just a few inches.

The summer recreation season is here, and even in Arizona, people will take to pools, lakes, ponds and creeks to beat the heat and partake in water sports, fishing or other forms of recreation that involve getting wet.

Enjoy the water, but do so safely.

Learn to swim

According to the American Red Cross website redcross.org, it’s the best thing anyone can do to stay safe in and around the water. It’s never too early to begin. Those with young children can enroll them in the SKIESUnlimited youth swim program on Fort Huachuca. It begins in June, and registration is already underway. For more information, call 538.6219/6319.

Supervision is key

On Fort Huachuca, both Irwin and Barnes Field House Pool have two lifeguards on duty at all times during operating hours. In quarters, adults or guardians should ensure no child is allowed to be in or around kiddie pools unsupervised. Drowning can occur within only a few minutes.

If living and having a pool off post, use a pool cover when not swimming. Keep pool gates closed and locked when no responsible person is available to supervise young or inexperienced people who might be tempted to swim or play in the water.

Either on or off post, even with supervision, inexperienced swimmers should wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices.

Set water safety rules

Set water safety rules for the whole family based on swimming abilities. For example, inexperienced swimmers should stay in water less than chest deep.

Avoid dangerous ‘too’s’

Too tired, too cold, too far from safety, too inexperienced – the dangerous “too’s” can get people in trouble while in the water, both in and out of supervised swim areas.

“Weak or inexperienced swimmers get in the deep end of the pool and panic,” said Brittany Whiteley, Fort Huachuca aquatics manager. “Or during lap swim, adults who set too great a goal get tired or exhausted, weak or get leg cramps, that’s where we see the biggest problems,” she added.

Use buddy system

Whether swimming, boating, kayaking, tubing, fishing or partaking in other activities in and around the water, do so with a friend. If leaving the area, let someone know exactly where you’re going and when you’ll be back.

Water-related injuries usually increase during the summer as people take to popular area lakes and other bodies of water. “Watercraft injuries are due mainly to inexperience with equipment or mixing alcohol with water operations. [Accidents also happen as the result of] swimming in areas where there is no lifeguard on duty as well as swimming in non-designated areas,” said Dan Orta, Safety director. He also explained that accidents happen to people who can’t swim and who are not wearing flotation devices when out on the water.

“I recommend keeping out of water in areas where no lifeguard is on duty,” Orta added. “This includes areas such as the pond by Lakeside Terraces on post, Parker Canyon Lake, Patagonia Lake and other areas not designated or staffed as swimming areas.”

Alcohol, drugs, water don’t mix

Do not mix alcohol with swimming, diving or boating. Alcohol impairs judgment, balance and coordination. It affects swimming and diving skills, and reduces the body’s ability to stay warm.

Watch weather, sunshine

Pay attention to local weather conditions and forecasts. To avoid potential problems, leave the water at the first indication of bad weather.

Use sunscreen lavishly, and reapply it often. It’s even possible to get badly sunburned on a cloudy day. If swimming, put on sunscreen whenever you leave the water.

Hydrate frequently

Even when a person is immersed in water, dehydration is possible. Take frequent hydration breaks, and ensure children do the same. It’s best to stick to plain water or natural juices and avoid caffeinated or sugary drinks.

To learn more about identifying and mitigating summer related hazards, go to the Army Combat Readiness Safety Center at https://safety.army.mil/multimedia/CAMPAIGNSINITIATIVES/KnowtheSigns/tabid/2369/Default.aspx.




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