Water safety tips from Yakima first responders

Yakima River Drowning
Yakima River west of Cle Elum, Washington

YAKIMA, Wash. — Yakima first responders are asking community members to be careful recreating in lakes, rivers and pools over Memorial Day weekend.

“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in five people who die from drowning are children under the age of 14,” said David Lynde, Operations Manager for American Medical Response Yakima.

Lynde said for every child who dies from drowning, another five children are treated for drowning in the emergency room and released.

“This isn’t just an issue affecting children, though, there are plenty of adults who fall victim to unsafe behavior too,” Lynde said.

Here’s some water safety tips from Lynde and AMR Yakima:

  • When boating, wear a life jacket, don’t overload the boat with people and only operate the boat if sober.
  • Never swim alone and don’t overestimate swimming skill, especially in cold lakes and rivers.
  • Watch children in the water and don’t leave them unattended.
  • Pay attention to water temperature.
  • Be prepared for water emergencies and know how to call for help.
  • Don’t go swimming when under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If someone has been drinking, designate a “sober water watcher” who can monitor the group without distraction.

Lynde said if someone begins drowning, those around them should immediately call 911 for help. If cell phone reception is inconsistent, he said people can text 911 their location.

If they’re able to get the person out of the water, Lynde said people should lay the victim on their left side in a recovery position. He said if the person isn’t breathing, do CPR immediately — even if you haven’t been trained to do it.

“Just push hard and fast in the center of the chest: it’s really that simple,” Lynde said. “You want to compress about two inches and about 100 beats per minute.”

Lynde said people can use songs like Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees to measure the tempo of the chest compressions.

“If there is no one around, you are their only hope,” Lynde said. “Sometimes folks worry about litigation, but there’s laws to protect them and the alternative is they’re going to pass away.”

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