Warm temperatures attract people of all ages to Missouri’s many lakes or rivers to go swimming and to cool off. Beating the heat in this manner is part of summer. “It’s fun to go swimming,” said Captain Matthew C. Walz, director of the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Water Patrol Division, “but understanding the risks and taking proper precautions is important. It’s common for children and teens to overestimate their swimming ability, which is why adult supervision is so important.”
The Patrol has been called to investigate 28 drowning incidents in Missouri so far this year. Most of these incidents are preventable. Water safety starts with understanding the risks of water activities and making good choices. Wear a life jacket, take a friend with you, know your swimming ability, and stay sober around water. Pay close attention to children around water. Please make good decisions when you are in or around water.
When you go swimming, know and respect your limits and don’t swim alone! Missouri’s lakes and rivers can include currents, drop-offs, and floating debris that make swimming more challenging. Exhaustion is a very real possibility if you’ve been swimming for a long period of time. Don’t make the mistake of overestimating your swimming ability. A life jacket won’t help if you’re not wearing it. If you choose not to wear a life jacket, have one within reach.
When you’re swimming with a group, know the skill level of everyone. All swimmers are encouraged to use a life jacket, especially young children and inexperienced swimmers. Younger, inexperienced swimmers may become exhausted before they realize they are in trouble.
Avoid putting yourself at risk when trying to assist someone who is struggling in the water. Assist them by tossing a floatation device or extending an object to them. Keep yourself safe! If you do have to enter the water to assist them, always put on a life jacket first.