Medical Society Urges Water Safety and Training for Swimmers

“Over the last few weeks, Massachusetts has seen several water-related tragedies and individuals running into trouble in the water.

“As the summer nears, the physicians of the Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS) strongly advise everyone to use caution and vigilance to avoid danger in and around the water. Many public and private settings in which swimming and other in-water activities occur have reported lifeguard positions are understaffed.

“Regardless of one’s proficiency as a swimmer or whether the lake, pool, or beach has a lifeguard on duty, adults should never swim alone and, importantly, never leave a child unsupervised in or around water. When watching children in the water, those supervising must dedicate 100 percent of their attention to keeping their eyes on those who are in or close to the water.

“Drownings can occur in just a matter of seconds.  Victims often struggle silently and may not yell, scream, flail or otherwise physically signal that they are in distress.

“Supervisors should never leave the area, nor should they become distracted by things like phones or books.  Do not consume alcohol or drugs when swimming or when responsible for watching others in or around water.  When boating, all participants should wear US Coast Guard-approved life jackets.

“If you own a pool or are visiting a pool, please make sure that all local safety requirements are being met, including and especially measures designed to ensure that children cannot gain access to an unsupervised pool.

“We strongly recommend that parents and guardians look into swimming lessons for children through the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), the YMCA or other local programs.  Additionally, please consider taking a course in CPR or renewing your CPR certification.

“We wish you a safe and happy summer.”

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