Labor Day the safe way Published Aug. 28, 2014 By 22nd Air Refueling Wing Safety 22nd Air Refueling Wing Safety MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- As the summer season comes to an end, many people see Labor Day as the last opportunity to hit the lakes or pools before the cooler temperatures set in. This is a weekend where many take vacation to visit the beach or local lakes to soak up the last of the summer sun and enjoy fun times with family and friends. According to Phil Hansen, Regional Executive of the American Red Cross Northern Minnesota Region, "many people will spend the Labor Day weekend traveling and spending time with family and friends, no one should take a vacation from safety." Water safety is an important part of making your Labor Day a fun and exciting one, rather than spending it in a hospital. There are several important tips for ensuring swimmers are safe, including: · Do not swim alone - have a buddy or lifeguard available in case there is an emergency · Always supervise children - stay close to young children and inexperienced swimmers and keep visibility of other child swimmers · Wear appropriate safety gear - inexperienced swimmers should wear a life vest or have another floatation device available · Watch the weather - weather changes frequently in Kansas; patrons should evacuate water sources and seek shelter when there are lightning potentials and severe weather Another item to consider when visiting lakes is boat traffic. Be sure to teach children about areas designated for boats and fishing, and which areas are designated for swimming so they do not unintentionally danger themselves. Many people tend to use boats or other marine equipment during this time. For those that decide to rent or use marine equipment of any type, be sure you understand how to operate it safely and within the normal limits of its operation. Furthermore, never operate a watercraft if you have consumed alcohol. Boaters need to take extra precautions around crowded lakes, to include slowing down when approaching docks and populated areas and ensuring children are wearing life jackets. According to the U.S Coast Guard, there were approximately 2,535 boating accidents in 2013, which resulted in 185 deaths and 1,639 injuries (Retrieved from http://www.uscgboating.org/assets/1/AssetManager/2013RecBoatingStats.pdf ) Therefore, boating is hazardous and should be done safely and seriously. Having an understanding of available safety equipment and being trained in CPR are also useful in case of an emergency. Learn where life preservers and rescue devices are located in case they are needed. It is also helpful to have a phone available in case you need to dial 911. Finally, the importance of wearing sunscreen cannot be stressed enough. Even in cloudy conditions, UV rays are still harmful to your skin if exposed for extended periods of time. Experts at the Skin Cancer Foundation recommend that sunscreen no lower than SPF 30 be applied to prevent sunburn. Fair-skinned individuals may need to apply a higher SPF to offer better protection. With these helpful suggestions, you can have a safe and fun day in the water on Labor Day.