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Water safety tips: Help in times of trouble

Swimming in pools, lakes and oceans is a favorite summer activity for many people all around the globe, but it can put you at high risk for trouble at times, particularly if you're an inexperienced swimmer. Taking certain precautions can minimize those risks, without reducing the fun.

Bob Bewley, aquatic supervisor for Onondaga County Parks and Recreation, listed two top tips for keeping it safe in the water: Swim in guarded areas and never swim alone.

"With any huge body of water, there's always an opportunity just to find a place to go swimming," Bewley said.

But the dangers behind finding an exclusive area to swim can come with a price. For one, not knowing the natural terrain is challenging in itself. Natural aquatic environments can be inconsistent -- you can be in four feet of water one moment, six feet of water the next. And if you're not a good swimmer, this transition will put you in deep water, literally.

"Always swim in a guarded area," Bewley said. "Why? Because we know where our drop-offs are."

The other advantage to swimming in marked safety areas is simply having a trained lifeguard on hand to help in rescue efforts, if needed.

"What's more natural than just going into surf and playing?" Bewley said. "But when you do it you have to do it in a guarded area or take other steps to make sure that you're safe."

His second tip -- never swim alone -- is just as important as his first and reflects the significance of having others with you in cases of emergencies.

"Always swim with a buddy," he said. "They could call for help or have somebody on shore call for help. Don't ever go swimming by yourself. Have someone around -- even if you're experienced."

The power of water

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