7 swimming and water sports safety tips

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The Bay Area isn't known for its warm ocean temperatures, which means avid open-water swimmers are a hearty breed around here. That said, summer is still the most popular time to take the kids to a pool or go kayaking, canoeing, windsurfing, jet skiing or scuba diving.

 

Soon, it will also be a good time to commute by water bike. Schiller Bikes will offer floating bikes for rent from the Dogpatch, Mission Bay, and the Oakland Estuary. They won't replace Bay Bridge commutes due to interference with shipping lanes, but you could conceivably use them for Oakland-Alameda commutes and for trips around the S.F. Bay. You don't need a helmet, but you should wear a life jacket.

 

Before you brave the chilly water or relax in a more temperature-controlled swimming pool, follow these tips to stay safe.  

 

Know CPR. Or make sure someone in your group knows CPR. It could save a friend's life in an emergency. And if you do have to use it in an emergency, call 911.

 

Wear a life jacket. Around 80% of boating fatalities stem from accidental drownings. Anyone and everyone on a boat should wear a life jacket. If you're trying windsurfing or some other water sport and you're not a strong swimmer, keep the life jacket on.

 

Supervise children. Any child under age nine should be supervised by an adult at all times. If they're over age 9 and not a proficient swimmer, they still need supervision. If your child goes to a pool without you, make sure they go with a buddy. Also make sure they meet American Red Cross Swimming and Water Safety Skills Chart Level 6 before they swim unsupervised.

 

Be aware of currents or rip tides. Especially when swimming in the Bay, stay mindful of currents and wind speed. To start, stay in Aquatic Park and don't swim beyond the wall or buoys. The farther out you swim, the more you get knocked around by the current. Better yet, join a group. Read more here about swimming in the Bay.

 

Wear sunscreen. The sun's rays hit you even when you're submerged. Wear a high SPF sunscreen and reapply often when you're in the water.

 

Drink water. That doesn't mean swallow ocean or pool water (not pleasant). That means drink lots of water when you're in the water. It's hard to tell you're sweating when you're swimming. Drink up to avoid dehydration.

 

Don't drink alcohol. Especially if you're boating. "Don't drink and drive" applies when you're steering a boat, navigating a jet ski or lying on a raft in the pool. Alcohol plays a role in about half of all boating deaths. Alcohol affects your ability to make quick decisions, swim, and come up for air if you suddenly fall in. Unless they're both in a glass, and you're safely at home, alcohol and water don't mix.

 

Stay safe this summer while you're enjoying the water by following the tips above. If you or someone you know gets seriously injured in a boating accident because of someone else's negligence, call our office for a free consultation.

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David G. Smith, Attorney At Law
2201 Broadway
Penthouse 1
Oakland, CA 94612

Phone: 510-431-2598
Fax: 510-893-2701
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