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Summer Series: Swim Safety Month!

Wyoming summers bring blazing heat, causing us to gravitate toward our state parks, lakes, and pools to cool off. While the water helps us simmer down and create lasting memories, it is essential to know how to keep yourself, your family, and your friends safe. Memorial Hospital of Converse County (MHCC) has the following suggestions to ensure you are prepared!

General Water Safety Tips:

  • Only swim in water that is monitored by a lifeguard.
  • Shower after swimming to cleanse yourself of bacteria and germs that can cause diseases.
  • Wear a life jacket when boating or participating in water sports. You should always wear one if you are not a strong swimmer. MHCC has partnered with Glendo State Park this summer to create a “Loaner Life Jacket Station” free of charge!
  • Never dive in shallow water or water of an unknown depth.
  • Observe individuals in the water for signs of struggle or drowning. This observation can include splashing, bobbing the head in the water, difficulty breathing, or not resurfacing. Drowning is often silent.
  • Monitor the weather for signs of danger, including thunder and lightning. Do not swim in these conditions.
  • Avoid using alcohol and other substances immediately before or while you swim, as these can impair you mentally and physically.
  • The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that you examine the side effects of medication and do not swim if they will impair your balance or coordination.
  • Do not eat or drink while swimming since these increase choking risk.
  • Ensure you are swimming in a well-lit area, especially if you plan to swim at dusk or night.
  • Observe and obey all signage to prevent hazardous situations from occurring.
  • The American Red Cross recommends developing basic swimming skills in all environments. These skills include entering water over your head and resurfacing, swimming 25 yards, floating or treading for at least one minute, turning over and around, and leaving the water.

Rivers and Streams:

  • You should not swim in areas with rocks, sharp objects, and dams.
  • If you are caught in a river current, swim downstream with the current until you can reach a safe area.

Lakes and Beaches:

  • Per the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH), you should not swim in bodies of water that have bacteria, algae, or scummy layers on the surface. Be especially careful to observe static bodies of water like lakes and ponds where these are more likely to form. Scummy layers and discoloration can indicate cyanobacteria, which contain cyanotoxins that can cause sickness in humans and animals.
  • Be aware of rip currents and do not fight them if you become stuck in one. It is a good practice to swim parallel to the current until you can escape it and get to safety.

Water Parks and Pools:

  • The WDH states that if you have children, you should carefully monitor when they urinate and have bowel movements. Ensure they have frequent bathroom breaks to prevent accidents in the pool that could spread diseases like Cryptosporidium.
  • If you own a pool, fence it in with a lock or barricade it so young children will not be able to access it alone.
  • Shower before entering the water to cleanse yourself of bacteria and germs you may transport to others.
  • Control running, jumping, and horseplay near the pool to avoid injurious accidents.

Whether you are swimming at Glendo State Park, the Douglas Municipal Water Park, or in your backyard, MHCC wants you to stay safe in the water this summer. If you have any questions about water safety, reach out to MHCC. We will connect you with resources to answer your questions so you can keep splashing safely!