Swim safe this summer

The Missouri Highway Patrol's water division wants everyone to remain safe while enjoying the state's lakes and rivers this summer. Safety includes watching children around water and wearing a life jacket.

Warm temperatures attract people of all ages to Missouri’s many lakes or rivers to go swimming and to cool off. Beating the heat in this manner is part of summer, but one that is not without dangers.

“It’s fun to go swimming,” said Cap. Matthew C. Walz, director of the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Water Patrol Division, “but understanding the risks and taking proper precautions is important. It’s common for children and teens to overestimate their swimming ability, which is why adult supervision is so important.”

The patrol investigated 28 drowning incidents in Missouri so far this year. Most of these incidents are preventable, states a patrol release. Water safety starts with understanding the risks of water activities and making good choices. The following are tips the patrol offer to help keep people safe.

• Wear a life jacket and stay sober around water.

• Pay close attention to children around water.

• When swimming, know and respect your limits and don’t swim alone. Missouri’s lakes and rivers can include currents, drop-offs and floating debris that make swimming more challenging.

Exhaustion is a real possibility if swimming for a long period of time. Don’t make the mistake of overestimating your swimming ability, the release states.

When swimming with a group, know the skill level of everyone. All swimmers are encouraged to use a life jacket, especially young children and inexperienced swimmers. Younger, inexperienced swimmers may become exhausted before they realize they are in trouble.

• Avoid putting yourself at risk when trying to assist someone who is struggling in the water. Assist by tossing a flotation device or extending an object to them. Keep safe and if entering the water is necessary, and put on a life jacket first.

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