Swim coach, EMS reminds community about water safety during summer

Swim coach, EMS reminds community about water safety during summer

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - With summer here, people are heading to Florida and Alabama beaches. 

On Tuesday, a Columbus man died after being caught in a riptide in the Gulf of Mexico. 

As more people cool off at a pool or by the beach, swimming coaches and EMTs in Columbus want to remind everyone how to be safe while having fun in the water. 

For swimming instructors like Dan Ohm, coach for the Columbus Aquatic Club Hurricanes, even the strongest swimmers should know better than to test their luck against moving water. 

"The Gulf could change within minutes," Ohm said.  "Know the forecast, know what you're getting yourself into."

Columbus Fire/EMS medic Sonny Chambers, who's worked in the community for 26 years, said that principle applies especially when it comes to parents bringing their kids to the ocean or even the pool. 

"Oceans, seas, lakes, rivers - you want to watch your kids at all times, because kids have a tendency," Chambers said. "All they see is water, and they wish to go into the water."

Ohm said if a person hasn't gone swimming for some months, he recommends he or she not attempt to swim out in the deep parts of the water. 

"Know you comfort level," Ohm said.  "If you aren't comfortable in the waves, and you're not comfortable being off your feet in the water, don't go past your waist." 

Another key point Ohm and Chambers is to never go swimming without a partner or a group to supervise. That way, in case a person is in trouble, there's always someone there to call for help.

"I think the more, the merrier on trying to render enough help to someone that's in the water that needs assistance," Chambers said.  

Chambers also said Columbus Fire/EMS responds to an average of six calls each summer related to drowning or water-related incidents. 

He recommends parents get their kids comfortable with swimming as early as possible, so they learn to tread water if they're ever submerged.

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