SEATTLE — It could be dangerous this weekend in waterways around western Washington as people seek refuge from the heat.
There are a few swimming locations around the Seattle area, like Magnuson and Madison parks and Green Lake's West Beach, where lifeguards are staffed. However, statistics from the American Red Cross show 63% of people swim in places without a lifeguard present.
Some communities around western Washington are not using lifeguards in swimming areas because of budget concerns or to promote social distancing. The Red Cross is concerned that not having a lifeguard could be a factor that leads to more drownings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Another issue is that many swim schools are closed, and people will not have access to improving or learning how to swim. The Red Cross moved its water safety and CPR classes online during the pandemic.
One of the messages they teach is “reach and throw - don't go.” That means if you see someone who needs help, try and reach for them or throw a flotation device to the person. You don't necessarily want to jump in yourself because that can lead to two people in danger.
“The last thing we want to do is to have someone who is untrained go into the water and then we end up with more than one victim,” explained Connie Harvey, with the Red Cross’ Aquatic Centennial Initiative.
The Red Cross also suggests that people should never swim alone. They recommend designating someone to watch the water if you are swimming with a group of people.
Despite what’s portrayed in movies, we've learned over the years that people drowning often don't call for help. It can be a silent tragedy with plenty of people nearby who didn't realize someone required help.