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Boating and Swimming Accident Prevention

 Austin Flooding Causing Dangerous Water Conditions

Summer is inextricably linked to water activities from lake-side summer camps, to the pool, to the beach. If you’ve lived in Austin for a while, a dry Greenbelt is commonplace, and you are used to low waters and long periods of no rain. However, Austin has been hit with some severe weather recently, causing flooding and high water levels. This has also caused dangerous swimming and boating conditions, not only leading to the temporary closure of some of our most beloved bodies of water, but the untimely deaths of 3 people at Barton Springs within a 10 day period.

These deaths have brought into light how dangerous the Austin waters are now that they are full and quickly flowing. Due to the high traffic and need to hop in water during high temperatures, it is essential to go over water safety, whether you are hopping on a boat or in the water.

Drowning Prevention

In the United States 10 people die every day from unintentional drowning. 1 of 5 of these victims are children. Across the board, whether you’re swimming or boating, there are key steps to drowning prevention. In an attempt to prevent drowning, obey the following:

  • Use a Safety Device: Can’t swim? Out of shape? Know you’re a weak swimmer? Well then you should be wearing a flotation device. Maybe you’re a bit older and think they just aren’t cool. Well, it doesn’t matter. Even if you think you are in the clear because you are in shallow water, you should still be well protected. Especially will how rough the waters are currently, a seemingly harmless body of water could have a strong current, and if you are a weak swimmer, you could end up in an incredibly dangerous situation. This is very relevant with children. Even if your child shows signs of being a strong swimmer, they should always have a life vest, especially when on a boat. In Texas, children under 13 are required to wear a life vest when on a boat. Always use a safety device if you wouldn’t feel comfortable treading water for an extended period of time, and encourage safety device usage in friends and family that you know are weak swimmers.
  • Swim with Supervision: It is always best to swim somewhere that has a lifeguard on duty. Swimming in areas without a lifeguard puts you at risk, because often there will be no one looking out for your safety. If you are a weak swimmer, and swimming in an area without a lifeguard, understand the risk and make sure you are with a buddy. Parents, if there is no lifeguard present, stay with your child, even if they are using or wearing flotation safety devices. Accidents can happen and devices malfunction, so it’s important that children have adult supervision by someone who is a confident swimmer themselves. If you are on a boat, make sure someone on the boat is a very experienced swimmer or has their CPR certification. Boating or swimming without an experienced swimmer and CPR certified individual is a huge risk to everyone present.
  • Watch the Weather: The water in Austin is currently more dangerous than normal, even on a sunny day. Any time you set foot in water, be aware of the weather conditions. High winds could prove dangerous, especially when boating or swimming in the lake or ocean. Even swimming in the rain can be dangerous in a pool. High winds not only cause waves, but could cause a person to lose balance. Pools are often slippery, and you don’t want to risk slipping on a pool ladder and hitting your head, rendering yourself unconscious. It is best to stay away from water activities if the weather is not ideal, even if it is still hot out or your only day off.

Water Safety Tips

Although there are some common safety tips, many are specific to where you are or what you’re doing. Going on a boat and swimming in a pool come with very different safety concerns, so it is important to understand safety tips specific to the environment you are in.

Boating Accident Prevention

Boating comes with different dangers than other water activities. Yes, still wear life vests, but also be weary of other dangers:

  • Experience Boater Aboard: We already stated the importance of having someone CPR certified on board, but it is also important to have someone with a boating license on board. A boating license is essential, so never let anyone without a boating license operate the boat. There are certain boating laws and regulations that must be followed, and certain safety measures that a non-boater wouldn’t be aware of. This person should be the one operating the boat and giving safety information to the other people on board. They will let everyone know where they should sit and how they should behave when the boat is moving. They will also know the speed that should be maintained, how to operate the boat, and the necessity of keeping eyes peeled. Maintaining focus while operating a boat is as important as keeping your eyes on the road when driving, because there are others out on the water besides yourself.
  • Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: When boating on lakes there can be a particular danger of carbon monoxide poisoning. So whether tubing, wake-boarding, water-skiing, it is important to remember not to hang on the back deck of the boat and look out for signs of carbon monoxide poisoning like headaches, nausea, dizziness.

Boating accidents result in 40 deaths a year in Texas, so safety is essential.

Pool Accident Prevention

By far the most popular summer water destination, swimming pools can often get crowded. Many pools are equipped with lifeguards who help prevent drowning, but some, like backyard pools or special hours at community pools, aren’t guarded. It is vital that weak swimmers are supervised under these conditions. Parents of small children should also look out for signs of Dry Drowning which can happen hours after a child leaves the pool when water sucked in while struggling to swim is slowly released into the lungs.

River Accident Prevention

Floating the river is a favorite summer pastime for many, especially in Central Texas which has a plethora of clean, cold waterways. For some on the water, their cooler is filled with drinkable water and snacks. For many though, it’s filled with beer and other kinds of alcohol. Alcohol and swimming are a dangerous combination as the alcohol weakens strength and coordination that allows people to swim and stay afloat. The best bet is to stick to non-alcoholic drinks while floating the river, but if you must have a beer with your float, drink modestly. This is especially relevant now that the currents are much stronger, and the water is flowing at a faster speed. Make sure you wear a life vest, lather on sunblock, be cautious of rocks, and stay with your group.

Beach Accident Prevention

Traveling 4 hours to Port Aransas or 3 1/2 hours to Galveston? Wouldn’t it stink if you got all the way there and weren’t prepared? Make sure when traveling to the beach, you first remember to pack all the necessary safety equipment. Have the right size life vests, proper SPF sunblock, hats, and lots of water. Beach safety doesn’t only apply to the ocean. Sunburns are a serious problem, as is dehydration. So make sure to prepare in advance.

When in the ocean, be very careful swimming, especially if you aren’t usually an ocean swimmer. Some areas, like around piers or jetties, have permanent rip currents, but these powerful currents can occur anywhere, often without warning. It is important to remember to not fight the current. If you are caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current and can swim back to shore. Children and the elderly should particularly be careful even in shallow waters as the waves at the beach can cause a loss of balance and footing and undertows can be strong enough to pull the individual underwater.

If you are at the beach, make sure to swim in areas where there is a life guard on duty. Us Austinites aren’t used to ocean waves, and it could be dangerous. Also keep an eye on ocean conditions. Many beaches display safety flags, alerting the public the safety of the water. As in a traffic light, green is good, yellow is proceed with caution, and red is danger.

Personal Injury Lawyers

Sadly, water sports and boating accidents can be serious, causing injuries with lifelong impact or even death. Victims of boating accidents and their families suffer not only the pain, loss, and grief; often they must navigate complex medical, legal, insurance, and administrative challenges also. McMinn Law Firm’s mission is to be of service to victims and families these very difficult times.

If you or a loved one has been hurt through no fault of their own and/or while under someone else’s supervision, boat accident lawyer the victim of a water safety accident or know someone who has drowned under supposed supervision, contact an Austin personal injury lawyer; Jason McMinn and Justin McMinn will be happy to evaluate your case quickly and without cost. Call us at 512-474-0222, use the live chat on our website, fill out the form on this page, or email info@mcminnlaw.com