Safety tips for the hot summer

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The SunUte Community Center provides swimming lessons for all age groups. Young swimmers learn how to respect the waters with safety-vests and proper guidance by the SunUte lifeguards.
Abeth Okall from the SunUte Community Center shows examples of water safety to young swimmers.
Sonja Fleming, lifeguard, helps Sonny Flores put on his lifejacket as part of the groups water safety lessons.
A young swimmer approaches the tip of the pool's diving board. Respecting the waters is a crucial rule for water safety.
Damon Toledo | The Southern Ute Drum
Damon Toledo | The Southern Ute Drum
Damon Toledo | The Southern Ute Drum
Damon Toledo | The Southern Ute Drum
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The summer is a time where family and friends partake in many physical activities, both indoor and outdoor. Whether it’s playing baseball on a sunny afternoon or hiking up a hillside in the mountains, safety is the number one precaution that always needs to be considered.

 

Keeping safe around water

One of the most well-known summer activities families enjoy is swimming. Families are encouraged to take a cool dip as the days get warmer, but they must also be fully aware of their surroundings when supervising their children and loved ones. Statistics have shown that from 2005-2009, there has been an average of 3,500 fatal unintentional drowning’s, with 20 percent of the victims being the age of fourteen-years-old or younger. Yearly, approximately 80 percent of people who lose their lives to drowning are males.

In order to be safe in the water, swimmers must first become familiar with the water, according to SunUte Community Center fitness manager, Robin Duffy-Wirth. She addressed swimming lessons as the main solution for water safety.

“SunUte teaches over one-thousand children swimming lessons a year,” she said. “Learning to swim and respecting the waters is the number one prevention in drowning. A lot of Native Americans don’t have the resources to learn how to swim, but the Southern Ute Indian Tribe probably has one of the highest number of tribal members, per capita, that can swim compared to other tribes around the country.”

Tribal members are offered free swimming lessons through SunUte with courses open to all ages. Non-tribal members can take these lessons for $40 for up to six group lessons. In addition, tribal members can also participate in CPR training classes, which are also free. The community center wants members who come to their facility to be on their toes when the unexpected strikes.

“Parents aren’t aware of how quickly a child can drown,” said Lisa Allen, aquatics coordinator SunUte Community Center. “There are risks involved when guardians are distracted. We just want everyone to have fun but to also leave alive and well everyday.”

Statistics have stated that participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning among children aged 1-to 4-years-old. There are other factors that contribute to water safety, like having a swimming partner, making sure swimmers aren’t holding their breath underwater for long periods of time, and paying attention to the weather forecast if swimming outside.

In order to ensure the pools are secure, SunUte stations lifeguards in the pool area who work around the clock increase safety. However, accidents can still happen at the most sporadic times where even the lifeguards won’t always be able to catch.

“A lot of parents have a false sense of security when they bring their kids to the pool because there are lifeguards present,” said Robin Duffy-Wirth. “We’re asking for the parents’ to help by having their eyes on their kids at all times.”

 

Keeping safe in the sun     

Aside from swimming, safety precautions from other summer activities come into play, including staying fully hydrated and protecting your skin from the sun. Thirst is an immediate sign of dehydration, and it is recommended that kids drink water every twenty-minutes when participating in physical activities. Sports drinks are okay for hydration as they contain electrolytes for the body, but sodas, fruit drinks, and high-sugar juices are not advised.

For protected skin when out in the sun, it’s recommended to use water-resistant sunblock that protects the skin from both UVA and UVB rays. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, getting a blistering sunburn at a young age doubles the chances of developing melanoma. Regardless of age or skin color, it is advised that everyone wears sunblock when out in the sun, Duffy-Wirth said.

If interested in CPR training courses, please contact the local American Red Cross at 970-259-5383.

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