How to Avoid Dangers on the Water This Summer

POCAHONTAS, AR -- More and more deaths happen on the water each year.  In fact, in Arkansas this year there have already been more deaths than in all of 2006.

"The main thing that I've seen is a failure to use common sense," said Travis Eddleson of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism.

Eddleson tells us there are many mistakes people make when they're out on the water.

"They don't use a personal floatation device.  They fall out of the boat, they hit their head and they drown," said Eddleson.

This year there have already been nine water related deaths.  In 2006 there were only eight deaths in the entire year.

"The child's responsibility falls on the parent or whoever has responsibility of the child at the time.  It's really important if parents will make sure their children are in personal floatation devices," said Eddleson.

There are floatation devices you should not use like the float's children sometimes have on their arms. Although it seems a little mundane to be the biggest danger people put themselves in not wearing a life jacket can be the difference between a safe return to shore and drowning.

If you're going to be out on the water an important thing to know is to know how to swim.  You can take swimming lessons at your local community center or YMCA.

"Whether they're private or group lessons, formal or informal, everyone needs to know how to swim," said Bob Williams.

When people come to the pool they usually think they're safe but there are things to remember.

"They are around a large body of water of various depths.  There are shallow ends, intermediate and deep," said Williams.

The different depths are for different skill levels.  All of these swimmers have to demonstrate their ability to swim before they are allowed in the deep end of the pool.

"Water is a great thing to take advantage of but it is very dangerous and you can get in trouble quick," said Williams.

At the YMCA there is one life guard for every 25 swimmers.

"We want them to scan their zone every ten seconds so if they look to the left they need to look to the right and then back to that same individual on the left," said Williams.

The pool at the YMCA is open for everyone from 1 o'clock until 5 o'clock Monday through Friday and from 1 o'clock until 4 o'clock on Saturdays.

Swimming lessons are offered by the YMCA for different ages.  Lessons start back up during the first week of June.  For more information about the pool or swimming lessons, call 870-932-8482.