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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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Greylock Elementary Celebrates Bike-To-School Day

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Greylock Elementary School celebrated Bike-To-School Day by hosting a Family Bicycle Night organized by the Greylock School PTG, Northern Berkshire Community Coalition’s Mass in Motion and Safe Routes to School on Thursday, May 30.

In May, the North Adams Public School Committee approved a pro bike-to-school policy for the 2019-20 school year. This policy will promote bicycling to school and enforce bicycle safety. Greylock School will be the pilot school for a Bike-to-School Day in the fall, so Family Bicycle Night was an opportunity for students to ride their bicycles and learn and practice bicycle safety.

The event included a bike safety check station led by the North Adams Police Department, who provided and fitted bike helmets, and a bike rodeo set up by MassBike, with courses set up to learn and practice bicycle riding safety and the rules of the road. Students received a certificate of completion and free bike gear give-aways. There was also a free raffle with chances to win new bike lights, locks and one new bicycle.

This event drew more than 100 students and family members. Greylock School looks forward to doing another Bike-to-School Day in the fall.


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