Water Safety Awareness

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Over the course of the past five days, there have been six fatal waterway related incidents in Anne Arundel County. Three of them in the Edgewater area alone. These incidents are all tragic and our hearts go out to the families and friends of those lost.

On Saturday, June 29, U.S. Secret Service Agent Stephanie Hancock died in a kayak incident on Spa Creek, her body was recovered late that evening. Sunday, June 30, an adult male succumbed to factors related to drowning in the Carr’s Wharf area of Edgewater. Monday, July 1, two crabbers were recovered in Stoney Creek in the northern part of the county. Last night’s jet ski incident took the lives of two more adults in the South River, also in the Edgewater area.

We want to take this time to discuss water safety so that everyone can help prevent fatal or tragic incidents in the future. Here are some water safety tips from the Anne Arundel County Fire Department:

Top Ten Tips
  • DO learn to swim. If you like to have a good time doing water activities, being a strong swimmer is a must.
  • DO take a friend along. Even though you may be a good swimmer, you never know when you may need help. Having friends around is safer and just more fun!
  • DO know your limits. Watch out for the “too’s” — too tired, too cold, too far from safety, too much sun, too much hard activity.
  • DO swim in supervised (watched) areas only, and follow all signs and warnings.
  • DO wear a life jacket when boating, jet skiing, water skiing, rafting, or fishing.
  • DO stay alert to currents. They can change quickly! If you get caught in a strong current, don’t fight it. Swim parallel to the shore until you have passed through it. Near piers, jetties (lines of big rocks), small dams, and docks, the current gets unpredictable and could knock you around. If you find it hard to move around, head to shore. Learn to recognize and watch for dangerous waves and signs of rip currents — water that is a weird color, really choppy, foamy, or filled with debris.
  • DO keep an eye on the weather. If you spot bad weather (dark clouds, lighting), pack up and take the fun inside.
  • DON’T mess around in the water. Pushing or dunking your friends can get easily out of hand.
  • DON’T dive into shallow water. If you don’t know how deep the water is, don’t dive.
  • DON’T float where you can’t swim. Keep checking to see if the water is too deep, or if you are too far away from the shore or the poolside.
(And two more added by our responders at WBVFD: Don’t swim, kayak, play in the water or control any watercraft while intoxicated!! Do put down the electronics and watch your children and friends in the water. It only takes seconds for tragedy to strike.)
If an emergency occurs, immediately call 9-1-1 and remember to ReachThrowRow and Go:
REACH the person in trouble by extending a releasable item, such as a pole, line or rope to pull them to safety, but not by hand as the rescuer could quickly become another victim.
THROW an object that floats to the victim if they are unreachable. A life ring, life jacket, cooler or plastic jug are suitable floating objects that can keep a troubled swimmer afloat until help arrives.
ROW to the victim, using a canoe or any other safe watercraft. The rescuer must wear a life jacket. Once the victim is nearby, a rope or paddle should be extended and used to tow the victim to shore if possible.
GO to the victim by entering the water as a last resort and ONLY if properly trained. The rescuer should bring an object to keep the victim afloat and to prevent being pulled under.
Please, everyone, be safe and smart as you enjoy the summer months. Live by these rules. Teach your children to take these rules seriously!

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