Water safety calls for common sense

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 23, 2003

Everybody wants to have fun.

But how much fun is it when overeagerness and foolhardiness, or simple ignorance, result in injury or even tragedy? With the plethora of advice available free everywhere about anything, it borders on criminal negligence when people die simply because they did not stop long enough to learn the rules. It is even worse when they knew the rules, but chose to ignore – if not flaunt – them.

Water is unforgiving of arrogance. One mistake on a boat does not result in a fender bender or a skinned knee. It involves a high probability of death, even with trained lifeguards on hand, even with our own swimming lessons stored away in our brains. Panic tends to chase away those lessons, even if in the best of us, and the most obvious solution to water safety is following the rules.

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Using common sense is another way to prevent tragedy, although most of those common sense rules are the basis for the laws and regulations that govern beaches and boating. Don’t swim alone, watch the warning signs posted on the beach, listen to the lifeguards where there are any – and try not to swim where there aren’t. Above all, remember that when water sports and alcohol meet, the one sure loser is the one who is drinking.

Nine lives were lost last weekend at the beach, lives that might have been saved by precaution and caution, by education, and by following the rules. Visitors are encouraged to come to the beaches, spend their money in our towns, and enjoy the sun and surf. We want each one to have the time of his life – just not the last time of his life.