2012-06-22


Tips For Safely Enjoying Natural Bodies Of Water This Summer

22 County Residents Drowned in Local Waters or Away From Region Since 2001

PITTSBURGH – The Allegheny County Health Department is advising adults and children to exercise caution when swimming, boating, water skiing or rafting in any natural bodies of water.

Since 2001 at least 22 County residents, 19 adults and 3 children, have drowned in local rivers, lakes and streams or natural bodies of water outside the region.  The adults ranged from 18 to 56 and the kids included two one-year-olds and an 11-year-old.

“Natural bodies of water often look inviting in the heat of summer and offer a way to cool off or just have fun.  Take precautions to prevent these tragic and accidental deaths,” said Acting Health Director Dr. Ronald E. Voorhees.

Health officials recommend these precautions to reduce the risk of drowning:

  • Learn to swim and become as proficient as possible; wear a life-jacket while boating, rafting, water skiing or swimming.
  • Know your limits – drowning often happens when a person tires while swimming or when a novice tries to keep up with a stronger, more experienced swimmer.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol or using drugs while swimming, rafting, water skiing  or operating any kind of watercraft.
  • Remove contact lenses before entering the water to reduce the risk of eye infection.
  • Watch children closely when they are in or near any type of water; stay close enough to reach them immediately.
  • Never overload your boat; make sure it has the required number of lifejackets and everyone on board is wearing one.
  • Turn off your boat’s engine before picking up a water skier or swimmer.
  • Never anchor from the stern or back of your boat – always at the bow or front; stay with your boat on the upstream side if it capsizes.
  • Look around.  Avoid a collision by keeping a proper lookout; stay away from dams and strainers or trees in the water.

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