By CHRIS AGEE
As summer months usher in hotter weather, visitors from across the region will flock to the Brazos River and other area bodies of water to cool off.
Before heading to the lake, river, or pool for a swim, though, experts urge all swimmers to remember several key safety tips.
Dr. John Jones, Palo Pinto General Hospital chief of staff and ER medical director, offered professional advice to swimmers of all ages.
“Never swim alone,” he said. “Always swim with someone else. That’s the best advice I could give.” Furthermore, he recommends swimmers inform others of where and when they will be taking a dip.
“You always want to have available rescue devices,” he said, “life preservers and things of that nature.”
Proper training is also a must, he said.
“Obviously, learning to be a good swimmer at a young age – swimming lessons – are very important,” he said. “Before you swim, make sure you can swim.”
While pools are often marked with water depths, staffed with a lifeguard, and stocked with safety equipment, Jones said swimming in other bodies of water presents unique risks.
“Know the area you’re swimming in,” he said. “If you’re swimming in the lake, it’s hard to see what the bottom looks like. It’s important not to jump off in water if you don’t know how deep it is.”
Though precautionary measures are intended to prevent drowning, Jones offered advice for individuals in such a position.
“As best you can, don’t panic,” he said. If possible, he stressed the importance of calling for help.
“Calmly tread water as best as you can ... attempting to float on your back,” he added.
American Red Cross offers safety tips in addition to those addressed by Jones.
The organization offers home pool safety, water safety, first aid, and CPR courses and encourages individuals to be prepared to respond to emergencies before swimming.