By Wallace McBride, Fort Jackson LeaderJuly 7, 2014
FORT JACKSON, S.C. (July 3, 2014) -- Drowning is not the only danger swimmers should be aware of as they return to the water this summer.
Although the public swimming areas on Fort Jackson are monitored by lifeguards, caution should be observed whenever recreation and large bodies of water meet, said Ron Ross, Fort Jackson garrison safety manager. Safety guidelines are posted at all of Fort Jackson's various swimming areas and should be read by all visitors, he said.
"The biggest problem is watching for people who aren't careful," Ross said. "Horseplay can lead to a lot of mishaps, and people going beyond their abilities can be a problem, as well."
Many of the post's swimming guidelines should be common sense, he said, but children can sometimes lose track of themselves when they get excited. Running is prohibited, as is diving in certain swimming areas.
"Look before you leap," Ross said. "And, obviously, do not drink before you try to swim. Don't mix alcohol and swimming."
Roughly one in five people who die from drowning are children ages 14 and younger, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In fiscal year 2013, 12 Soldiers died in water-related accidents, according to U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center/Safety statistics. Death is not the only possible outcome from swimming misadventures, either. For every swimming-related fatality, five more children require emergency care for nonfatal injuries.
"A lot of people think that we, as lifeguards, are baby sitters," said Sang Pak, post aquatic director. "If you bring children under the age of 13, they need to be supervised by an adult. Adults can't just sit in the corner and let children run around by themselves."
Lifeguard William Johnson agreed and urged everyone to be mindful of the surroundings when swimming.
"The first save I ever had as a lifeguard involved a student who was only five feet away from his teacher," he said. "When the teacher's back was turned, he got into trouble. We had a pretty steep incline and he floated into it where he couldn't stand anymore."
Weak swimming skills, alcohol use and a lack of supervision are among the leading factors contributing to the risk of drowning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Accidents will happen," Pak said. "But, to prevent them from happening more often, we have to do our due diligence. Prevention is the most important thing. You have to be proactive about it, instead of being reactive."