Water safety: a primer for warmer weather

Published 11:24 am Tuesday, April 3, 2012

As the weather gets warmer, Shelby County families will gravitate toward spending time on the water, whether locally or at a vacation destination.

While water activities, such as swimming or boating, can be a lot of fun, such activities can be dangerous if proper safety rules aren’t followed.

Unfortunately, Oak Mountain State Park saw an example of that danger this past weekend, as a Childersburg 18-year-old drowned in the park’s lake.

The victim, who wasn’t wearing a life jacket, was riding in a paddle boat but got out where he could touch the bottom of the lake. The wind blew the paddle boat away, and the victim simply “panicked,” according to Oak Mountain State Park Superintendent Michael Jeffries.

No matter the age of someone participating in water activities, that person should be prepared with a life jacket, especially when boating.

According to the Alabama Marine Police, everyone on board a vessel must have a life jacket available to him or her. Anyone being towed on skis or a tube, riding a Jet Ski or Sea Doo or boating within 800 feet below a dam must wear a life jacket.

All children under 8 years of age must wear a life jacket.

Swimmers should never swim alone in unsupervised areas. Use the buddy system.

Swimmers should also never dive or jump into unfamiliar water — there’s always the chance of shallow water or submerged trees or rocks. That impact could cause injury, paralysis or death.

Don’t stay in the water too long, especially when the water is cold. For more water safety information, check Outdooralabama.com.

The We Say is the opinion of the Shelby County Reporter editorial board.