Summer means heat, and that means more people heading to the water to cool off and have fun. Unfortunately, it also means risk of death or injury on Minnesota lakes, rivers and pools.
So far this year, 25 people have drowned in Minnesota. Last year at this time there were only 16 fatalities.
Six deaths this year were related to boating accidents. National statistics show 4 out of 5 boating accident deaths could be prevented if people wore life jackets.
Minnesota law requires boats to have one life jacket per person when on the water. Kids under the age of 10 are required to wear the life preserver.
Nearly all drowning deaths are preventable. Follow these tips to keep safe in the water:
▪ Supervise when around water. Designate a responsible adult to watch children swimming or playing in or around water. Adults should be close enough to touch preschool children at all times. Drowning occurs quickly and quietly, so adults should not be involved in any other distracting activity (such as reading, playing cards, talking on the phone or mowing the lawn) while supervising children, even if lifeguards are present.
▪ Use the buddy system. Always swim with a buddy. Select swimming sites that have lifeguards when possible.
▪ Learn to swim. Formal swimming lessons can protect children from drowning. But even if children have had swimming lessons, an adult still must supervise when children are in the water.
▪ Fence it in. Minnesota law requires that any pool other than a private residential pool must have fencing to prevent unsupervised access. Individual city ordinances vary regarding fencing around residential pools.
▪ Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). In the time it takes for paramedics to arrive, your CPR skills could save someone’s life. Learn CPR through Dakota County Heart Restart.
▪ Don’t mistake toys for safety devices. Don’t use air-filled or foam toys, such as "water wings", "noodles", or inner-tubes, instead of life jackets. These toys are not life jackets. They’re designed for fun, not to keep swimmers safe.
▪ Avoid alcohol. Avoid drinking alcohol before or during swimming, boating or water skiing. Do not drink alcohol while supervising children.
▪ Don’t hold it in. Don’t let swimmers hyperventilate before swimming underwater or try to hold their breath for long periods of time. This can cause them to pass out—sometimes called “shallow water blackout”— and drown.
▪ Watch the weather. Know the local weather conditions and forecast before swimming or boating. Strong winds and thunderstorms with lightning strikes are dangerous.
For more information, visit:
▪ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
▪ Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
▪ Minnesota Safety Council