CATAWBA CO, NC - The 4th of July holiday is historically a busy time on Catawba Co. lakes and with many recent drownings the counties emergency responders and services are asking for you to be safe.
“Searching for a missing swimmer or boater is one of the saddest and most difficult things we have to do each summer”, stated Karyn Yaussy, Catawba County Emergency Management Coordinator. “It almost never turns out well.”
Water safety must be a priority for everyone. Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death in children and sixth for people of all ages (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System). There is an average of 3,525 unintentional drownings (non-boating related) annually and another 330 people die each year from drowning in boating-related incidents in the US.
“Consistently following water safety procedures when on or near the water probably would have saved the drowning cases we have been called to in recent years.” stated Yaussy. “We would love to see everyone be safe and prevent more drownings from happening this summer.”
Catawba County Emergency Services urges the following water safety practices:
- Whenever you on or near the water always swim, boat or fish with a buddy.
- Whenever near the water wear an approved, appropriately sized life jacket or personal flotation device. Life jackets save lives when unexpected things happen.
- Always enter the water feet first and check area for hazards such as dams, underwater obstacles, rocks and sudden drop-offs or changes in water depth.
- Be aware of what others in the area are doing especially with boats and jet skis.
- Check water and weather conditions before you boat or swim – continue to monitor for severe weather.
- Always anchor the boat before anyone jumps off to swim.
- Do not use alcohol or drugs before or while operating a boat, swimming or supervising others who are swimming.
- Swim only in areas marked for swimming with signs, buoys and ropes.
- Keep children under constant supervision and make sure you remain free from distractions when children are near water.
- Ensure everyone in your family learns to swim by enrolling them in swimming lessons through the YMCA or municipal recreation center.