Cool off, sure, but use caution in waterways

It is a summer tradition in the Pacific Northwest: Warm temperatures bring crowds to the area's abundant lakes, rivers and beaches.  Too often, rescue operations follow.

Crews responded to emergencies at at least three Western Washington lakes over the past weekend.  Dr. Beth Ebel, a UW Medicine injury-prevention specialist and pediatrician, said most trouble on the water can be avoided with one simple choice: putting on your life jacket.

“Drowning is quiet and it happens without somebody noticing. It really is a terrible tragedy," Ebel said. Good habits, she added, begin with parents.

"We've seen that kids are 13 times more likely to wear their life jacket when the parent is wearing them, too. It's what you do as a parent to model this for your kid and set the example.”

High temperatures are projected this week and next for the Puget Sound region. Ebel said hydration is crucial at the peak of summer, but relying on alcohol to hydrate during outdoor activities not only is counterproductive but also increases risk.

“I love that people get out there. That's the whole goal. So do it, just take those few safety measures: helmet, swim lessons, the life jackets, and avoid alcohol when you're outside," she said. "Find another way to be entertained because that contributes to all of these injuries.”

UW Medicine