KDSN RADIO News

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

The heat is coming so stay safe in pools, lakes with swim lessons, life jackets

The heat is coming so stay safe in pools, lakes with swim lessons, life jackets

Radio Iowa file photo

(Radio Iowa) A nationwide study finds the number of drownings rose significantly in recent years, and with temperatures in Iowa expected to hit the 90s this week for the first time this year, anyone in — or on — the water needs to take precautions to stay safe.

Kelly Hilsabeck, the trauma injury prevention coordinator at Gundersen Health System, says Iowa parents should make it a priority to get their kids in for swimming lessons.

Hilsabeck says, “Enroll your kids as soon as they seem physically, emotionally, developmentally ready to start learning those basic swimming skills and water survival skills.”

The CDC study found about four-thousand deaths nationwide in 2019 from drowning, but the numbers rose by about 500 each year in 2020 and 2021. Due to the pandemic, Hilsabeck says many people may’ve simply not taken swimming lessons during those years, and she notes, those lessons aren’t just for kids.

“You’re never too old to learn,” Hilsabeck says. “The new study that came out actually found that about 54% of U.S. adults have never had a swimming lesson, so it’s really important to know there’s not an age limit on swimming lessons.”

Whether swimming in a backyard pool or a municipal pool, drowning is always a risk, but the risk may be even greater on lakes and rivers due to hidden drop-offs, currents and murky water.

Hilsabeck says drowning is typically a silent tragedy. “It’s been portrayed as a very loud and noticeable event in movies and TV shows,” Hilsabeck says, “and often it’s just really not that way. The swimmer possibly could have already been distressed and just isn’t going to be making a lot of noise and it can just happen so quickly in 20 to 60 seconds.”

Anyone on a pleasure boat, kayak, canoe or innertube should also strive to be safe by wearing a life jacket — and she says to make sure it’s one that fits.

Gundersen Health System has clinics in Calmar, Decorah, Fayette, Lansing, Postville and Waukon, and a hospital in West Union.

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