Swim safety tips to keep you safe this Fourth of July

Swim safety tips to keep you safe this Fourth of July

LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC (WIS) - After three drownings each so far in 2017 in Lexington County and in Richland County, swim instructors offer tips on how to keep you safe in the water over the long Fourth of July holiday weekend.

The latest drowning happened in Lexington County over the weekend, when the coroner says a 23-year-old man went swimming at 2 a.m. near the Lake Murray dam. 

To prevent emergencies, swim instructors WIS spoke with caution parents to be sure children are supervised and in life jackets, but also say even the most experienced swimmer not to become over-confident.

Zia Layton has years in experience swimming, that she's passed on to students working for at Palmetto Aquatics.

"Even though I've had years of training in swimming and I was a competitive swimmer for twelve years, I still know that water is a life or death situation," Layton said. 

Layton swims, teaches, and coaches children from 18 months old to 18 years old. So, she is saddened to hear of the latest drowning this past weekend on Lake Murray.

"I would know, to try to keep on my back and keep my mouth up so that I can breathe and get air through my nose or mouth," she demonstrated on Monday. 

She recommends life jackets, but also says emergencies can happen, and here's what you should do:

  • Don't panic
  • Try to float facing up
  • Keep face and chin pointed upwards towards the sky
  • Take deep breaths with mouth or nose
  • Move arms in swimming motions smoothly and slowly, chest and stomach muscles tight and up toward the surface

However, if swimmers in an emergency are forced face down, Layton says there are other ways to react, always remaining calm.  

"If they would just float the best they could in an emergency situation, they can lightly move their arms back and forth," Layton said, "but it's called the dead man float and you can breathe...close your mouth…"

Layton demonstrates getting head above water to take deep breaths, before floating face down in the water.  

She thinks mistakes happen mostly when swimmers don't respect the fact that water can be dangerous.

"There's serious consequences to what happens and that's just why I believe that people should really use every measure of safety they can," Layton said. 

She adds the most important thing is for people not to panic, to try to focus the mind on one object or rock, wall, boat, dock, or something to fix their focus that could be a way out to safety. 

Across the state, coroners offices report drownings so far in 2017: In Horry County, there have been three. In Beaufort County, there have been two. In Charleston County, there have been also been three, but the coroner's office says the deaths were not from recreational swimming. 

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