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Summer Safety on the Water

Summer is a wonderful time for fun in the sun. Water destinations like beaches, pools, lakes, and rivers provide an environment that appeals to all ages.  

These are ideal places for family gatherings and celebrations, which sometimes include drinking alcoholic beverages. This summer, practice making low-risk, low-threat choices and be sure to “Protect What You’ve Earned” by practicing these six safety tips:   

1. Stay hydrated. Alcohol contributes to dehydration. Keep plenty of water and non-alcoholic beverages on hand.    

2. Understand the risks associated with alcohol and water activities. Alcohol impairs judgment, balance, and coordination. Changes in judgment, balance, and coordination affect swimming and other water sports/activities’ safety. Alcohol consumption makes the individual more susceptible to injuries and drowning.   
3. Inexperienced swimmers should seek age-appropriate swim lessons prior to engaging in water activities. The local YMCA is a great resource.    
4. Do not forget your life jacket. For water activities, it is recommended that everyone wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket, especially those who are inexperienced swimmers.    
5. Know the risk of boating under the influence. According to the U. S. Coast Guard, alcohol use is the leading factor in fatal boating accidents. Over half of all boating accidents involve alcohol. It is important to know the state laws for Boating Under the Influence (BUI). Operating a boat while intoxicated is a federal offense which may include jail time, and steep fines. Additionally, there may be separate state penalties, which vary by state.   
6. Protect against sunburn. Children and adults should wear hats, sunglasses, protective clothing, and frequent applications of sunscreen, SPF 30 or higher. Look for a sunscreen that says waterproof on the label and be sure to reapply after getting out of the water.     

Relax, soak up some sun, play in the water, and enjoy some fun with friends and family this summer. Don’t forget to follow these tips to help keep everyone safe!   

For more safety tips on the water, check out the official website of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Boating Safety Divisionor the American Red Cross. 

For more information on low-risk, low-threat drinking, please contact your local Substance Assessment and Counseling Center (SACC). 

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