Canadian Red Cross marking Water Safety Week

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As the region continues to see above seasonal temperatures, officials with the Canadian Red Cross are stressing the importance of safety around the water.

The organization is launching its annual Water Safety Week, highlighting the importance of following basic safety protocols by a pool, beach, or any open waterway.

Shannon Scully-Pratt is a First Aid trained Swimming and Water Safety Representative for the Canadian Red Cross and says this week serves as an important way to remind families of many fundamental rules they may have forgotten over the winter months. Before opening up her pool for the season, she says it's essential to hold an 'orientation' for the family's youngest members.

"It was bringing the kids out and reminding them where's the shallow end, where's the deep end, where's the safety equipment, what do you do if somebody gets hurt," says Scully-Pratt. "Just going through those pieces over again and making sure that we're enforcing the information to our family and the guests that come visit us as well."

Scully-Pratt says parents can make sure that children are safe by the water this year. She says the number one tip she has for all guardians is to make sure an adult is designated at all times to be watching any children who are playing in or by the water.

"That means no distractions; not playing on your phone, not reading your book; making sure that you're away of exactly who is in the pool, what are they doing, and watching the kids," says Scully-Pratt.

It is advice that she follows closely. It came in hand recently when her dog fell into the pool while walking alongside.

"I was so glad that I was able to respond quickly," says Scully-Pratt. "Not only because I didn't want him to cut the liner, but he was very afraid when he fell in the water, and he could have easily grabbed onto one of the children, and it could have been a very bad situation. So by being able to be aware of what was going on, I was able to react very quickly."

Another important tool for a safe summer is a proper life jacket. According to Scully-Pratt, a working life jacket should have buckets and zippers along with a strap for children that goes between their legs to help keep their head above water.

If the life jackets have been stored for an extended period, perhaps in a cottage shed, a proper inspection should be done at the start of the season. The life jacket inside should also come with a label that says it is approved by the Department of Transport Canada.

Scully-Pratt says that adults should also use a life jacket when in the water.

"So really enforcing not only that role-modelling feature but the fact that it's like wearing a seatbelt," says Scully-Pratt. "If you don't have it on and you're in an accident, then you're not in a safe position to help yourself or anyone else."

For more information and tips on how to stay safe, you can click here.