Make summertime a safe time

School’s out and the days are starting to warm up, which can only mean one thing: more and more children will be heading toward the water.

A dip in a local lake is refreshing, but the absence of a lifeguard’s watchful eyes means families need to take even more precaution. All it takes are a few seconds or a small distraction and a family’s life can be changed forever. In the last three years, three Kitsap children have died from drowning in our local waters, according to the Kitsap County Health District.

Helpful hints provided by the district include ensuring children always wear life jackets in and around the water even if they know how to swim and making sure there’s always an adult who’s the designated “water watcher.”

While drowning hazards are always prevalent no matter which lake or beach it is, the health district warns waterborne illness also can be a risk. Each year, there is at least one swimming area that must be cordoned off because of swimmer’s itch or high bacteria levels. Many times, warning signs will help keep swimmers at bay until the problem is resolved.

Although the health district will be monitoring bacteria levels at swimming beaches and access areas at 17 lakes and nine saltwater locations throughout Kitsap County, it’s advised people use waterproof sunscreen before swimming and shower or vigorously towel dry immediately after leaving the water to prevent swimmer’s itch. Toxic blue-green algae can be another concern. Swimmers are advised to avoid swallowing lake water or swimming in areas where algae blooms are spotted.

If the current weather pattern holds, the swimming areas of Kitsap County could be quite popular this summer. Taking the necessary precautions can mean a summer of fun. Enjoy the outdoors, but remember to keep safety at the forefront of all activities — especially those around the water.

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