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Residents urged to be cautious around water

June 19, 2003|by JENNIFER SMITS

jennifers@herald-mail.com

In the wake of a drowning in Antietam Creek and with water-related activities associated with the summer months, health officials urge area residents to use caution around water.

Kim McCannon, director of health and safety at the Washington County Chapter of the American Red Cross, said drowning is a leading cause of unintentional death among children. She said swimming lessons, education about water safety and supervision are some of the most important ways parents can protect their children from drowning.

"We have swimming lessons all over the county right now," McCannon said.

McCannon also stressed the importance of lifeguards.

"I don't recommend swimming unless there is a lifeguard present," she said.

Karen Meinelschmidt, aquatics director at the Hagerstown YMCA, said that it is important to know the water conditions where you are swimming. She said a swimmer should be aware of the currents, depth, temperature and murkiness of a body of water before entering it.

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Both McCannon and Meinelschmidt stressed that everyone in a boat should wear a life jacket. Meinelschmidt said that boats should not be overcrowded.

If someone gets into trouble in the water, Meinelschmidt said it is important to wait for help and not panic. The person in danger should find something to hold onto and kick his or her feet but avoid splashing water into his or her face.

"It is important to remain calm until someone can help you," she said.

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