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SwimmingAbout 45 percent of all drownings involve peoplefalling in the water while walking on piers and bridgesor fishing from boats. Many victims were poorswimmers who lacked basic water skills.If you are going to spend time near the water, youshould know how to swim. Swimming is your bestdefense against drowning. You should know how toswim even if you never expect to go in the water. Youmay someday have the opportunity to save a drowningperson's life.Always swim with a friend. The buddy system saveslives. Swim only in designated areas. Undesignatedswimming areas may have hidden hazards that can killyou.Teach your children how to swim. Drowning is thesecond leading cause of accidental deaths in children.NEVER leave a child alone near a swimming pool orswimming area. Many parents think they can hear theirchild fall into a pool. They are wrong. Drowning is asilent killer. There is usually no loud splash or cry forhelp because the first gasp for air fills a child's lungswith water, blocking all sound. Child-proof your pool,Install a double layer of protection around your pool.Build a fence at fence five feet high around the pool witha self-closing, self-latching gate. Make sure the latch isout of children's reach. You also can buy an electronicsensor that floats in the pool and sounds an alarm ifsomething disturbs the water.Beware of cold water. Chances of survival in50-degree water are only 50-50 if you are exposed for50 minutes. If you arc alone, usc the heat escapelessening position (HELP). To do that, huddle toconserve heat by crossing your arms and feet and pullingyour knees up (fig.11-1). You can die fromhypothermia, even if you fall into water as warm as 70degrees, if you stay immersed long enough. If you haveseveral people in the water, huddle together in a circle(fig. 11-2). For either of these techniques to be effective,you must be wearing an approved personal flotationdevice.Do not jump or dive into water that may be so coldit will numb your body. Instead, ease into the waterFigure 11-1.—Heat escape lessening position (HELP).Figure 11-2.—Huddle positiongradually. Cold water exhausts a swimmer faster thanwarm water. Do not swim long distances in cold water.Cold or tired muscles are susceptible to cramps. Toovercome a cramp, draw your knees toward your chestand massage your cramped foot or leg while moving it.You should be in a "face forward" float position whiledoing that.Know and consider your swimming limitations. Donot swim when you are tired, overheated, or chilled. Ifyou find yourself fatigued, you can find temporary reliefby floating, treading water on your back, or varying thestyle of swimming.If you find yourself in trouble,11-4
conserve strength as much as possible. You can do thatby resting on your back in a floating position with aminimum amount of motion.