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PRESS CONTACT INFO

ROBIN ERICKSON
Director of Communications

PHONE
(401) 831-7700 x101
E-MAIL
[email protected]

Thursday, May 23, 2002
Memorial Day Weekend Marks Opening of Pools and Beaches; Red Cross Urges Rhode Islanders to Swim Safe This Summer

Every year, approximately 4,500 Americans die due to drowning accidents --- over 300 incidents involve children under the age of five drowning in unguarded pools. Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of the swim season with the opening of Rhode Island beaches and many backyard pools and the American Red Cross of Rhode Island is urging families to take safety precautions to ensure safe swimming.

Learn to swim: More children die each year from drowning than firearms. The best safety measure is making sure your child knows how to swim. The Red Cross is offering its summer swim program for children, ages 4 and up, at four locations in Rhode Island this summer. Last year, over 700 children participated.

Only swim where there is a lifeguard present and keep young children under constant supervision: Most drownings of children ages 1 to 14 occur in swimming pools and open water sites such as lakes, rivers and streams. "Floaties" and other devices do not replace the watchful eye of a parent.

Don't dive or jump into shallow water: Every year, over 1,000 disabling neck and back injuries occur as the result of unsafe water activities. Rule of thumb: don't dive into water than is less than nine-feet-deep unless you have been specifically trained.

Always wear a lifejacket when boating: It is too difficult to put one on once you're into the water. Make sure all lifejackets have the Coast Guard seal of approval.

Know your limits: Be aware of the "too's": too tired, too cold, too far from shore, too much sun, too much strenuous activity. Especially at the beginning of the swim season, fatigue can impair your physical ability and also your judgement.

Learn lifesaving skills: Every parent, grandparent and babysitter watching a swimming child should know First Aid and CPR. The Red Cross offers these classes at locations across the state. Call 401.831.7700 ext. 101 or visit www.riredcross.org for sign up information.

For more information on swim safety or the Red Cross Summer Swim 2002 Program, call 401.831.7700 ext.110 or visit www.riredcross.org today.

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