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Teen Safety

When the weather turns warm, everyone wants to be in or around the water.

Hanging out with their friends at the pool, or the beach, on a hot day is a great way to beat the heat.

Between having fun and checking out the lifeguards,

most young people don't think much about water safety - but they should.

For people between the ages of 5 and 24, drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death.

It doesn't have to be that way, though.

Most water-related accidents can be avoided by knowing how to stay safe and following a few simple guidelines.

Cool water

Speaking of temperature, it's possible to get too cool.

How?

Staying in very cool water for long periods

can lower your body temperature.

A temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit

(20 degrees Celsius) is positively balmy on land,

but did you know that water below 70 degrees

will feel cold to most swimmers?

Your body temperature drops far more quickly

in water than it does on land.

And if you're swimming,

you're using energy and losing body heat even faster than if you were keeping still.

Monitor yourself when swimming in cold water

and stay close to shore.

If feel your body start to shiver

or your muscles cramp up,

get out of the water quickly;

it doesn't take long for hypothermia to set in.

Diving

Diving injuries are most common in teens,

many of which can result in

permanent spinal cord damage or death.

Only dive in areas that are known to be safe f

or diving, such as the deep end of a supervised pool. If an area is posted with

"No Diving" or "No Swimming" signs,

pay attention to them.

If you see a "No Diving" sign,

that means the water isn't safe for a headfirst entry. Even if you plan to jump in feet first,

check the water's depth before you leap to make sure there are no hidden rocks or other hazards. Lakes or rivers can be cloudy

and hazards can be hard to see.

Buddy up

Swim with a partner, whether

you're swimming in a backyard pool or in a lake. NEVER swim alone.

Even experienced swimmers

can become too tired or get muscle cramps,

which might make it difficult to get out of the water. When people swim together,

they can help each other

or go for help in case of an emergency.

Know your limits

Know your skill level.

If your a weak or beginning swimmer

don't go in water that's so deep

where you can't touch the bottom.

Don't try to keep up with skilled swimmers.

That can be hard,

especially when your friends are challenging you - but it's a pretty sure bet t

hey'd rather have you safe and alive.

If you are a good swimmer and have had lessons, keep an eye on friends

who aren't as comfortable or as skilled as you are.

If it seems like they (or you) are getting tired

or a little uneasy,

suggest that you take a break from swimming

for a while.

Swim in safe areas only

It's a good idea to only swim

in places that are supervised by a lifeguard.

No one can anticipate changing ocean currents, riptides, sudden storms, or other hidden dangers.

In the event that something does go wrong.

Lifeguards are trained in rescue techniques.

Become skilled

Be prepared.

Learn some life-saving techniques,

such as CPR and rescue techniques,

can help you save a life.

A number of organizations offer free classes

for both beginning and experienced swimmers

and boaters.

Check with your YMCA or YWCA, local hospital,

or chapter of the Red Cross.

Drink plenty of fluids

Dehydration can easily happen when in the sun, particularly if you're active and sweating.

Keep up with fluids

- particularly water -

to prevent dehydration.

Dizziness, feeling lightheaded, or nausea

can be signs of dehydration and overheating.

Sun burns

Use sunscreen.

Sun reflecting off the water or off sand

can intensify the burning rays.

You might not feel sunburned

when the water feels cool and refreshing,

but the pain will catch up with you later -

So remember to reapply sunscreen frequently

and cover up much of the time.

Alcohol and water never mix

Alcohol is involved

in numerous water-related injuries

and up to half of all water-related deaths.

The statistics for teenage guys

are particularly scary:

One half of all adolescent male drownings

are tied to alcohol use.

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