Health & Safety

June 22, 2012

Water hazards: summer’s silent killer

By Senior Airman Jack Sanders
99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. – With temperatures in the triple digits and the risk of heat related incidents rising, nothing could be better than a little water, right?


As summer temperature rise, so do water-related mishaps. Each year, Las Vegas statistics for accidental drowning rise during the pool season. In fact, drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death in Clark County for children four years of age and younger.

“Constant adult supervision is essential in preventing childhood drowning,” said Master Sgt. Schelaundye Owens, 57th Wing safety ground safety manager.

Simple preventative measures known as the ABCDs of swimming safety could potentially prevent an incident.

“The ABCDs of swimming safety are pretty simple to understand,” Owens said. “A is for adult supervision. Always have adult supervision present if children are in the water. B is to ensure there are barriers around pools. The installation and proper use of barriers or layers of protection is crucial. C is for classes, like swim lessons or CPR. There are a variety of classes around Las Vegas and most classes aren’t very expensive. D is for devices. That’s your life jackets, respiration tools and flotation devices.”

“If you’re just learning to swim, I highly recommend you wear flotation devices, and if you can’t swim, stay out of the water,” she said.

Failing to establish and follow water safety precautions can quickly become disastrous.

“When it comes to water it’s like anything – take safety as first priority,” Owens said. “Be aware of your surroundings and know your limits. If you are drinking, stay out of the water. If you have small children, keep your eye on your children. In two seconds, kids are submerged.”

According to the Southern Nevada Health District, getting a towel takes ten seconds, time in which, a child can be submerged. Answering the phone takes two minutes, during which a child can lose consciousness under water. Talking with someone at the door takes four to six minutes, time enough for a child to sustain permanent brain damage or die drowning.

“That’s how quickly you could lose your child or your loved one,” Owens said.

During 2012, Clark County recorded 21 submersion incidents, 19 non-fatal drowning and two fatal drowning incidents.  Over the past seven years, Las Vegas has had 307 Submersion incidents averaging near 44 incidents per year.

Swimming lessons are offered through Outdoor Recreation and taught at the Warrior Fitness Center. Those wanting to sign up may visit Outdoor Recreation or call 652-2514. The classes last two weeks long with three 30 minute classes per week. Outdoor Recreation also provides safety equipment rental. CPR courses are offered through the Red Cross. To sign up contact the Red Cross at 652-2106.

“All safety incidents are preventable,” Owens said. “Follow the ABCDs of swimming safety and help make sure these incidents don’t happen.”

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