Staying safe by the water as you beat the heat

HAMBURG, N.Y. (WIVB) – With Wednesday’s hot weather, a lot of people are hitting the beach or the pool to try to cool down. But, if you’re not careful, a quick dip can turn dangerous.

“Don’t take anything for granted when it comes to water safety,” said Luke Sullivan, Recreation Supervisor for the town of Hamburg. “You can never be too safe, especially when you’re talking about kids.”

Woodlawn Beach saw crowds of kids and adults showing up early on Wednesday, to try to begin to cool off as the weather turned from warm to uncomfortably hot.

Hot weather like this can take a toll on anyone who spends too much time outside in it, including the lifeguards responsible for watching the water.

“We’re going to have a lot of lifeguards working so that we can take shorter shifts so we’re not in the sun as long so we can be mentally and physically prepared at any time,” said Shaun Munz, assistant head lifeguard at Woodlawn Beach.

All of the lifeguards at Woodlawn Beach do a lot of training all summer long to be prepared for any situation, from potential spinal injuries, which they were training to handle on Wednesday morning, to rip current rescues, which can be a real issue when swimming in the lake.

But, with big crowds like the ones that turn out on very warm days, come extra challenges for the lifeguards. “The more people we have on the beach, the more swimmers there are, so that means we need to be that much more vigilant and be watching kids very carefully, too,” Munz explained

The staff at Woodlawn Beach says it’s critical that parents are closely watching their own children as the first line of defense. “People need to keep an eye on their kids at all times and know where they are because there’s nothing more terrifying than looking around not knowing where your seven year old is and having to report that to a lifeguard,” Sullivan said.

That’s why the first rule on the signs as you walk onto the beach remind everyone that direct supervision is required for anyone under age 12. That entails actually watching your kids – not texting, not tweeting, not playing Pokemon GO.

“Their attention gets diverted away from what they should be paying attention to,” Sullivan pointed out. “I think a lot of people think that because there are lifeguards here that that means that their kid is being closely supervised. And that’s not the case. The lifeguards are here obviously for safety, and to react, but they cannot keep an eye on every person out there.”

Sullivan’s big advice is to be prepared and know your limits. “Just know what kind of water you’re getting into as far as the waves. You don’t know what’s under the waves, how deep the water is, the subsurface currents,” he said. “Know your ability, I think, is a big one.”

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