Elder Care in Wayzata MN
June 5 through 11 is National Rip Current Awareness Week. With the summer months here and many families heading to the beach for vacations together, it is vital that everyone understands the risks of rip currents and how to handle them safely and effectively. This can allow you to plan beach trips with your family while feeling confident that everyone is going to have fun and stay safe.
Rip currents are currents of water that create channels leading away from the shore. They can be extremely strong and drag a person out into the water in a matter of moments, preventing them from being able to get back to the shore. These are not uncommon occurrences and exist at nearly all beaches that have a significant surf. Even if someone only ventures into the water enough to cover part of their legs, they can get caught in one of these currents. Knowing what to do can help to prevent a potentially devastating situation.
Use this information to help keep your aging parent and the rest of your family safe near the water during National Rip Current Awareness Week and throughout the rest of the warm weather season:
• Be aware of them. While it is not always possible to predict the presence of rip currents, there are times when advisories are posted. Be aware of the presence of rip currents and avoid the water when such warnings exist. Even if there is not a warning, be aware that there could be rip currents and stay alert any time that anyone is in the water.
• Use safety devices. If your aging parent or your children are not strong swimmers, be sure that they utilize proper safety devices. Wearing United States Coast Guard Approved life jackets any time that they are near water can provide an extra layer of protection to help them handle a potentially dangerous situation. Remember that toys such as water wings and rings are not considered flotation devices and will not provide adequate support during these events.
• Use a buddy system. It is always best to have multiple people around when you are going near the water. Bring your parent’s elder care provider along to the beach with you so that they can supervise your parent while you keep an eye on your children. This will ensure that everyone stays aware of everyone else and emergencies are more easily recognized.
• Do not fight the current. If someone does get caught in a rip current, they should not fight it. The average rip current moves at approximately 2 feet per second, but they can go as fast as 8 feet per second. If a person fights this current, it will only exhaust them and make them less in control of their body. Instead, relax your body and allow yourself to float. This will conserve energy and help you to stay above water.
• Go sideways. It is frightening to get caught up in a rip current and the first thought is usually wanting to get back to shore as quickly as possible. You should not, however, attempt to swim directly back toward the shore. This will only get you more caught in the current. Instead, turn sideways and swim parallel to the shore until you have gotten out of the channel of water. Once you can no longer feel the strong pull, start swimming on a diagonal toward the shore.
• Be visible. A fantastic way to help keep everyone safer in the water is to increase visibility. Choose swimwear that is very brightly colored and consider adding bright accessories such as hair ribbons and bracelets. This will make it easier for you or a lifeguard to keep track of your senior in the water. Encourage them if they are frightened to wave and call out for help so that they can be found as quickly as possible.