Warm temperatures attract people of all ages to Missouri’s many lakes or rivers to go swimming and to cool off: it's how they beat the summer heat. 

Captain Matthew C. Walz, director of the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Water Patrol Division, is urging swimmers of all ages to remember the risks and take proper precautions while enjoying summer on the water. “It’s common for children and teens to overestimate their swimming ability,” he pointed out, “which is why adult supervision is so important.”

The Patrol has been called to investigate 28 drowning incidents in Missouri so far this year. The agency says most of these incidents were preventable.

Here are some safe swimming tips the Patrol is reminding swimmers to practice in these dog days of summer.

-Wear a life jacket

-Take a friend with you

-Know your swimming ability

-Stay sober around water

-Pay close attention to children around water

-Don’t make the mistake of overestimating your swimming ability. When you’re swimming with a group, know the skill level of everyone.

-A life jacket won’t help if you’re not wearing it. If you choose not to wear a life jacket, have one within reach.

The Patrol urges all swimmers to use a life jacket, especially young children and inexperienced swimmers. Younger, inexperienced swimmers may become exhausted before they realize they are in trouble.

Missouri’s lakes and rivers can include currents, drop-offs, and floating debris that make swimming more challenging. Exhaustion is a very real possibility if you’ve been swimming for a long period of time.

Rescues

Avoid putting yourself at risk when trying to assist someone who is struggling in the water. Remember: Reach, Throw, Row, Go.

Assist someone who is struggling by tossing a floatation device or extending an object to them. If you can row to them, do so, and then extend an object to pull them to safety -- for a powerboat, get the boat moving in the right direction and kill the engine, allowing it to coast toward them. Keep yourself safe: a person who is struggling in the water can end up causing their well-intentioned rescuer to drown too. If you don't have rescue training, go for help. If you do have to enter the water to assist them, always put on a life jacket first, and bring something to extend to the struggling person, to keep between you.

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