Portland summer: Hit the water to stay cool

Summer weather in PDX is ideal for (safe) water activity

Rejoice, Portland! The summer season is here, and most residents have water on their mind. While there may be no better feeling than submerging yourself in a local pool, the glacier runoff from Mount Hood or the cool ocean waves on the coast, safety should be a top priority for your family and friends. According to the World Health Organization, drowning is the No. 3 cause of unintentional injury death, worldwide. In the United States, more than 3,000 people drown every year on average, and every summer we see reports of local residents who lose their lives while enjoying a day at the river, lake or pool.

The good news is, in most cases, drowning is preventable. Taking precautionary steps before entering any body of water can significantly help prevent water-related accidents. Before you head out, talk to your family and friends about staying safe this summer in the salt, chlorine or fresh water.

Can you swim?

“Swimming” doesn’t necessarily mean you can finish the 100-meter freestyle at Olympic speeds, but knowing how to float, move effectively and breathe while in the water could save your life or the life of a family member. There are plenty of local swim coaches ready to help you and your family learn to swim. If you’re looking for some motivation, follow these steps.

When you’re at the pool for summer fun, keep in mind these easy-to-remember yet important rules to help ensure a safe experience. Water should be for relaxation and belly flops, not emergency resuscitation.

  • Stay in view of the lifeguards and follow all of their directions
  • Always be in the company of an experienced swimmer
  • Establish a list of rules for children to build strong water-safety habits
  • Do not overindulge in alcohol or any other inebriating substances that can affect judgment or motor skills
  • Maintain a stock of flotation devices, such as “floaties” or life jackets
  • Apply and reapply sunscreen

If you’re taking advantage of the natural beauty surrounding Portland, make sure you’re aware of the risks of natural springs, rivers and the ocean, and follow the rules of law enforcement and any posted signs, plus the rules listed above. In addition:

  • Always travel in groups
  • Know your route and tell family and friends about your plans
  • Have life jackets for all people on boats
  • Stay aware of rapids or rip currents
    • If you feel a riptide in shallow water, immediately get out
    • If you’re swept out into the ocean, remain calm, conserve energy when possible and ride it out
    • Swim parallel to the coast to escape the pull
    • Swim diagonally toward the coast, away from the riptide, to return safely

Doctors and nurses at The Portland Clinic encourage all of our neighbors to get outside and enjoy the beautiful Pacific Northwest weather. If you have any questions or concerns about fitness regimens, skin care, or other summer-related health issues, please contact The Portland Clinic for an appointment by calling 503-223-3113. Please note, medical advice can only be delivered to current patients.