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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Swimming and water recreation can be a great family outing. Ninety
percent of families with young children will be in the water sometime this year.
Of those ninety percent, half of those will swim in an area with no lifeguard. When
planning the family water outing, keeping the family safe will be easier if you can
remember to "THINK". “T” stands for the dangerous “Too's” --too tired, too cold, too far from safety and too much sun. Any of these can
lead to serious safety concerns. Remember to take rest breaks, don't swim in water
that is too cold, stay close to a lifeguard or close to the shore, and remember to
apply sunscreen and drink plenty of water. “H” stands for “Hazards.” Culverts and ditches can be dangerous. Lots of rain can bring some enticing,
fast running water into areas where there is usually little or no running water.
Although it may seem like fun to play in these water areas, they can be some of the
most hazardous places to be. So teach your children to stay away from hazards such
as ditches, culverts, creeks, and ponds that are in your neighborhood or community,
especially after periods of heavy rain. “I” means to watch out for the “Inexperienced swimmer”. Remember that noodles, floaties, and other water toys are
for fun, not for safety. If you have an inexperienced swimmer in your family, do
not rely on these water toys to keep them safe. Make sure they wear a coast guard
approved life jacket that is appropriate for their size. It is important that the
swimmer puts on the life jacket before entering the water. Adults should stay within
an arms-reach of children in case they need help. “N” refers to the fact that there is “No substitute for adult supervision”. A lifeguard is for helping in emergency situations,
not babysitting. It is recommended that you swim in areas that have a lifeguard on
duty. Remember, however, that the lifeguard’s job is to prevent and respond to water
emergencies. It is the parent's job to supervise their own child. “K” stands for “Knowing your area”. Many creeks, streams, and some areas of the lake can be too shallow
for diving. Natural bodies of water such as lakes, rivers, and oceans can contain
unexpected hazards like rocks, stumps, shallow areas, sudden drop-offs, or strong
currents. If you don't know the area, don't go swimming there. You should also be
familiar with the depth of the pool you are swimming in. The depth should be marked
on the side of the pool. With several weeks of summer left, many adults, teens, and children will continue
to take advantage of spending time in the water. Swimming and water recreations are
staples of summertime fun as families make many life-long memories. Whether swimming
in your backyard pool or a river or pond, safety is always a number one priority.
Help your family have a better time in the water by remembering to T-H-I-N-K before
your outing. Have a safe summer!
By Linda Bates County Extension Agent - 4-HThe Cooperative Extension ServiceU of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Linda Bates County Extension Agent - 4-H
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
236 Woodbine Hot Springs AR 71901
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal
access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to
participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension
office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible
persons regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national
origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information,
or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity