Ask one what their favorite activity to participate in during the summer and you're likely to hear something having to do with water.
However, water safety is an important feature of the 101 Critical Days of Summer as many Sailors work directly on the seas and rivers. Even if one does work on the water directly does not mean that they cannot fall victim to a potentially deadly accident if they are not careful.
According to the Naval Safety Center (NSC), 42 Sailors and Marines drowned between Fiscal Year 2007-2011. Some were boating or kayaking, others overwhelmed by rip currents, but over half of these fatalities occurred between May and August.
According to Jim Peake, the safety installation program director for Naval Support Activity Washington, summer can be a particularly dangerous time when it should be a particularly enjoyable time. More people suffer preventable mishaps during the summer than any other season.
"During the summer months, when we feel jolly and sometimes us older people want to feel young again, you're going out and doing things that you haven't done in six, seven, eight months and you might not use your basic safety practices," said Peake.
Peake emphasizes the importance of safety, especially when it comes to children, during the summer months and beyond. As mentioned, one of the most important venues to maintain safety awareness in is where many people spend a lot of their free time during the summer: around the pools. Especially when it comes to water safety, a fun day at the pool can turn into a tragedy in the blink of an eye.
According to the NSC, there are three big precautions to emphasize when it comes to pool safety: barriers around the pool, close attention to young children, and preparation for emergencies.
The first big precaution, barriers around pools, is to prevent any accidental entry into the pool, especially by young children. Keep a fence around your pool that is well maintained, and have a gate on it that closes and latches automatically. The latches themselves should be high enough to be out of reach for small children.
The second big precaution regarding pools is vigilant safety practices regarding children. If one is taking care of a toddler or young child, make sure they're never out of arms reach when around a pool.
"Always watch your kids [around the pool]," said Peake. "It only takes a matter of seconds for something to happen."
The final big precaution is always being prepared for emergencies. Keep life preservers and other flotation aids constantly at the ready, and keep a phone by the pool just in case emergency aid needs to be summoned. Swimming in a pool with a lifeguard is best, but if one has a pool at home, they should get trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
When one is swimming at the beach, a lot of the same rules apply, but there are some additional caveats. Always keep close watch of children as by a pool, swim with a lifeguard present, but also consider these other tips from the NSC.
The NSC warns to be realistic about your ability, learn to swim if you do not know how, swim in areas where a life guard is on duty, and actually do what the lifeguard tells you, obey signs, and recognize water conditions and depths.
One often ignored piece of advice is one concerning riptides: always swim parallel to the shore in order to escape a rip current, and then swim back in. Fighting a riptide will only tire one out and could prove to be dangerous even for very strong swimmers.
"Especially for Sailors who are trained, they might think 'oh, I can handle it'," said Peake. "But it is important to never let your guard down."
For such a popular destination during the 101 Critical Days of Summer, it certainly can be a precarious one, but if one keeps their wits and safety information about them, then many of the dangers of the pool or beach can be negated and focus can be spent on having fun.
For more information on water safety, please visit the Naval Safety Center at http://www.public.navy.mil/navsafecen.