The waters of the Colorado and Green rivers, as well as the numerous pools in Moab and Grand County, provide a welcome respite to the heat of summer and ways for many locals and visitors alike to relax, cool down and unwind.
However, in the past month, the region has been shocked by three incidents — one, tragically fatal — on the waters in our area. Two of those incidents involved recreation on the Colorado River, while another happened at the Grand Oasis pool facility.
With these recent events in mind, I figured it would be well worth the time to research some water safety tips and memorialize them in print for you, your family and friends to consider when out and about in our beautiful region.
According to the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA) website, safety tips include layers of protection, which is a concept that can be utilized in aquatic environments to aid in the prevention of childhood drowning. The USLA also advocates several pool safety tips, open water tips and the standards for swimming lessons for infants.
Layers of protection
In conjunction with USLA, the National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA) has publishes tips on water safety in general. One of the key factors, according to NDPA is the use of “layers of protection” to include constant supervision of children and others during non-water activities. In other words, know where children are and never leave a child unattended in or near water in a pool, tub, lake, river, canal or ocean, even when lifeguards are present. Babysitters and caregivers should also be instructed about potential pool hazards and emphasize the need for constant supervision of children and barriers.
If a child is missing or unaccounted for, always check the pool or spa first.
The NDPA also stresses that anytime infants and toddlers are in, or around water, an adult should be within an arms length, providing a designated “water watcher” to maintain constant watch over children in or near the water. Do not use flotation devices as a substitute for supervision. Water wings or “floaties,” inflatable water rings, and other pool toys are not safety devices and should never be used in place of U.S. Coast Guard approved life jackets.
Swimming lessons are also considered a layer of protection and are essential to developing the skills needed to stay alive in water.
“Swimming is not an instinctive skill for humans,” states the NDPA website. “We cannot survive in water unless we are taught how to swim. All adults and children should learn to swim ... Adults should be smart and aware; never consider children “drown proof” because they’ve had swim lessons. Nothing will ever eliminate the risk of drowning. Even an Olympic swimmer can drown ... Ensure that swim instruction includes water safety and survival education at the appropriate developmental level.”
Open water safety
According to NDPA, most drowning victims drown within 10-30 feet of safety, so it is important that you and your family learn to swim well.
Tips from their website include: Never rely on toys such as inner tubes and water wings to stay afloat; Don’t take chances, by overestimating your swimming skills; Swim only in designated swimming areas and never swim alone.
The Center for Disease Control keeps track of statistics regarding drowning deaths; Each year more than 3,400 people drown in the United States and drowning is the second leading cause of accidental deaths for people 1-14 years of age — and is the sixth leading cause for all ages.
One of the best pieces of advice, I believe, is this: Never dive into lakes and rivers because the results can be tragic. According to NDPA, diving accidents result in thousands of people suffering paralyzing spinal cord injuries every year and many of them die before they reach the hospital. All too often, hidden dangers lurk beneath the surface of the water, even in shallow water, including current, rocks, and debris.
If we exercise just a little bit of caution and use common sense, all while having the fun we are all accustomed to here in this little slice of heaven, we may see a decline in the deaths we have seen too many of in recent months.
For more safety tips, visit ndpa.org/resources/safety-tips.