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Vigilance Urged as Summer Swimming Season Begins

Experts say children and adults alike should know the basics of swimming. (Pixabay)
Experts say children and adults alike should know the basics of swimming. (Pixabay)
May 26, 2016

LANSING, Mich. – Whether it's in Lake Michigan or at a neighborhood pool, summer means swim time for folks around the state.

But no matter their level of swimming experience, all people need to use caution around water, safety experts say.

Dr. Brad Uren, an emergency physician with the University of Michigan, says first and foremost, children and adults alike should know the basics of swimming, even if they aren't interested in the water.

"If they find themselves – if they fall off of a boat, if they fall into a pool or into water – to have that really essential life skill of how to swim and how to save themselves, that's critical,” he stresses. “It can be life and death."

And while children under age five are in the group with the highest risk of drowning, Uren says parents should keep an eye on children of all ages when they're swimming.

In 2014, 78 people in Michigan lost their lives by drowning or submersion.

Diving is also a concern, which Uren says can result in spinal cord injury. He notes that folks should only dive in swimming pools where it is allowed, and never into natural bodies of water.

"As we know here in Michigan, winter can change things a lot,” he points out. “Water levels can be up or down, currents can be different. There may be rocks, trees, other submerged hazards. So, make sure that you really know where you are, and what the hazards are."

Uren says it's always a good idea to swim with a buddy, and pay attention to anyone nearby.

He adds the signs of drowning are not always obvious.

"Don't assume that because somebody seems to be slipping below the water and not splashing that they're not actually in trouble,” he states. “That could actually just be somebody who is physically exhausted and slipping out of sight for the last time."

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - MI