Splashing Safely in Lakes and Oceans
Bostonian avid open-water swimmer Kate Radville is delighted that water constitutes 70 percent of the Earth’s surface. “The controlled environment of a swimming pool is convenient,” she says, “but splashing around outside in the beautiful summer sunshine is undeniably liberating.”
Enthusiasts are both attracted by the rugged beauty of wild water and humbled by its power, but without proper skill or knowledge, swimming in natural settings can be risky. “Millions of dollars are annually spent on advertising, tourism and beach restoration projects to bring people to water,” says Dave Benjamin, executive director of the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, “yet, the American Red Cross finds that 54 percent of Americans lack basic water emergency lifesaving skills.” Maximize enjoyment and safety in the open water by heeding basic guidelines.
Be Weather Wise. Check the forecast before heading out and be conscious of any sudden climate changes. Leave the water or the area in the event of thunder or lightning. Tall buildings or mountains may block the view of the sky, and storms can pop up quickly, so Benjamin recommends using a battery-powered portable radio or smartphone app for weather updates. Wind and atmospheric pressure shifts can stir up waves for hours, so hesitate before returning to the water after a storm.