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Red Cross Urges Safety Measures Around Pools, Swimming Areas

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As the weather warms, people begin to open their pools and visit swimming areas including beaches, lakes and rivers. The Red Cross urges Massachusetts residents to learn how to be safe around bodies of water.

First, residents should secure their pools when they are not in use. This includes:

* Completely surrounding the pool with four-sided isolation fencing with a self-closing and self-latching gate that is out of the reach of a child.

* Installing a four-sided isolation fence (separating the pool area from the house and yard), which reduces a child’s risk of drowning 83 percent compared to three-sided property-line fencing.

* For above-ground pools, securing, locking or removing steps, ladders and anything that can be used for access (such as outdoor furniture and toys) whenever the pool is not being actively supervised by an adult.

* Installing a secondary barrier, such as door alarms and locks that are out of the reach of a child on all doors and windows with direct access to the pool or spa area, and lockable covers. For further details, consult the pool barrier guidelines issued by The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Second, residents should establish and enforce rules and safe behaviors. These include:

* Do not enter head first unless in a pool that has a safe diving area.

* Stay away from drains and other openings that cause suction.

* Swim with a buddy.

* Only swim when supervised by a water watcher.

* Swim sober.

* Supervise others sober and without distractions, such as reading or talking on or using a cell phone.

And third, residents should learn how to be "water smart." This starts with learning to be safe, making good choices, and learning to swim to at least achieve the skills of water competency.

* Everyone should be able to enter the water, get a breath, stay afloat, change position, swim a distance and then get out of the water safely. A variety of water safety courses and resources are available online.

* Employ layers of protection including barriers to prevent access to water, life jackets, and close supervision of children to prevent drowning.

* Ensure every member of your family learns to swim so they at least achieve skills of water competency: able to enter the water, get a breath, stay afloat, change position, swim a distance then get out of the water safely.

* Know what to do in a water emergency – including how to help someone in trouble in the water safely, call for emergency help and CPR.
* Prevent unsupervised access to water. Fence pools and spas with adequate barriers, keep a constant eye for any water dangers such as portable splash pools/slides, buckets, and bathtubs.
* Adults should actively supervise children and stay within arm's reach of young children and new swimmers. Kids should be taught to follow the rules. Always wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket when on a boat and if in a situation beyond someone's skill level. Swim as a pair near a lifeguard’s chair; everyone, including experienced swimmers, should swim with a buddy in areas protected by lifeguards.

* Designate a "Water Watcher" to keep a close eye and constant attention on children and weaker swimmers in and around the water until the next Water Watcher takes over. Download the Red Cross Swim App for kid-friendly games and activities and water safety information for parents and caregivers of young people learning how to swim. Download the app for free by searching for "American Red Cross" in the app store.


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North Adams' Helme Named Woman of Achievement

Helme last year receiving the PopCares Community Partner Award for her efforts on behalf of local nonprofits and other groups. 
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