Monday, April 16, 2007

Travel World: How to Avoid Submersion Accidents

Summer is here. And with summer comes water sports: swimming, kayaking, diving, and boating. But, each year hundreds of people drown from submersion accidents.

According to Dr. Paul Auerbach of Wilderness Medicine, weak swimming skills, panic, and poor judgment are the leading factors to these incidents. To avoid being involved in an submersion accident, here are a few of his tips:

1. Learn to swim. This is most important for children and teenagers, who are frequently in the water and often place themselves in precarious situations. It is also important for adults, particularly those who may need to self-rescue, such as surf swimmers, scuba divers, and river rafters. However, do not let swimming lessons create a false sense of security, particularly with children.

2. Do not tolerate horseplay in or around the water. This includes diving from heights into shallow water or water of unknown depth.

3. Avoid solo swimming; use the buddy system, so that someone is always on the alert to help a companion in need.

4. It is never safe to cross thin ice; one should be particularly careful during the spring thaw.

5. Alcohol and recreational drugs have no place anywhere near the water. It takes only a brief lapse of common sense to ruin a person’s life forever.

6. Never place non-swimmers in high-risk situations: small sailboats, whitewater rafts, inflatable kayaks, and the like.

7. When boating or rafting, always wear a properly rated life vest (jacket) with a snug fit and a head flotation collar.

8. Know your limits. Feats of endurance and demonstrations of bravado in dangerous rapids or surf are foolhardy.

9. Learn how to properly cross flowing streams of natural water. Do not attempt to cross a flowing stream where the water is above your knees.

Read the full article at Medicine at the Outdoors.

Terah Shelton
Traveler. Writer. Ingenue.

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