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Tips for staying safe on the water this summer


With the summer season and hot weather upon us, going to the beach or a lake is many people’s favourite when it comes to cooling off, but swimming can also come with many risks.

Michael Melenchuk with the Lifesaving Society of Nova Scotia says many of the big risks of swimming aren’t even visible from above the water.

“We have so many great lakes in Nova Scotia but the problem is we often don’t know what the bottom of those lakes look like,” said Melenchuk in an interview with CTV’s Ana Almeida on Wednesday.

“I enjoy going to Chocolate Lake and going for a nice swim to cool off on a hot day, but there’s quite a drop-off there, and that combined with our ocean beaches where we have big waves and rip currents, there’s a lot of things that we don’t necessarily see from the surface of the water.”

Despite what many would think, Melenchuk says the majority of drownings happen to people who don’t actually plan to get into the water in the first place.

“It’s one of those things where in the moment you’re panicked because you’re either trying to help somebody or trying to help yourself,” said Melenchuk.

“The same thing applies for boating. Most people aren’t expecting to get out of the boat so again the majority of our drownings happen for people that weren’t trying to swim, they got in trouble on their boat or they fell over or capsized, so we have to remember to wear our PFD’s when we’re in the boat.”

During the summer months many people enjoy having a couple drinks while out on the water, but Melenchuk strongly recommends against it.

“Alcohol has continued to play a role in drownings as well, so if you’re out on a boat, maybe wait until you’ve come back to shore before enjoying a cold one,” he said.

It’s always recommended to go to a beach with lifeguard supervision, but even with lifeguards are on sight Melenchuk said parents still need to stay alert.

“I think of some of the big beaches around Halifax we get hundreds or thousands of people, so lifeguards are there to respond but they can’t always give one-on-one attention to your little ones. so we still need to be responsible for our own kids and pets and everything else, but lifeguards will be there to assist and respond should we need them,” he said.

While it’s advised to not swim alone, if you decide to go by yourself, Melechuk advises to at least make sure there’s supervision no matter how strong of a swimmer you are.

“I would much prefer to swim with a buddy. I find it more fun anyway, but again if I am going out and I don’t have a friend that can go then I’m looking for a lifeguard at site where the lifeguards can help me should I get in trouble,” said Melenchuk.

“And I consider myself also a strong swimmer, but I’ve also come to realize that things happen. You know there’s medical events where again it’s not planned in advance, these things happen to us, so it’s nice to have support like the lifeguards and other members of the public around us.”

With files from CTV's Ana Almeida Top Stories

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