Stressing water safety amid high temperatures

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Troy Frazer, 482d Medical Squadron, Public Access Defibrillator Program Coordinator
  • 482d Medical Squadron

Faced with record-breaking temperatures across the nation, the 482d Medical Squadron rallied during their September unit training assembly to prioritize and highlight the importance of recreational water safety.

The sustained heatwaves underscore the need for heightened caution during water activities. Natural water sources, becoming increasingly popular as a respite from the intense heat, bring with them a set of risks, both from the environment as well as hidden dangers within.

Studies from the National Institutes of Health have indicated a significant relationship between extreme temperatures and the potential hazards associated with extended periods of being in the water. Although many pools continue to operate until cooler weather prevails, those opting for natural settings such as lakes, rivers, or oceans must practice added caution during these extreme heat conditions.

A statistic from the National Safety Council reveals that more than 4,000 individuals drown annually, with nearly all such incidents being preventable. The Air Force community was starkly reminded of this peril with the tragic drowning of two Airmen in June.

To address these risks, the Air Force Safety Center strongly recommends the following water safety guidelines:

    • Know and respect your swimming limits.
    • Always heed beach safety and warning signs.
    • Avoid diving headfirst into unknown waters. Check for depth and obstacles first.
    • Be cautious of plunging and surging waves and understand their potential dangers.
    • Ensure boats are in top condition and life preservers are within reach.
    • Seek shelter immediately at any sign of bad weather.
    • Alcohol and swimming don’t mix. Alcohol impairs judgment and can affect body temperature.
    • Those with little swimming skills should always wear Coast Guard-approved flotation vests.
    • Avoid swimming during choppy seas to prevent injuries.
    • Swimming in inlets is discouraged due to strong currents.
    • Children must always swim with the supervision of an adult.
    • Be alert to underwater sandbars and the associated rip currents they can create.
    • Swimming at night or near fishing piers is discouraged.
    • Avoid swimming near beaches during inclement weather.

“We’ve got to do better,” said Col. Steven Clough, 482d Medical Squadron commander, “Taking our situational awareness everywhere is essential, especially when it comes to the water.”