With our schizophrenic Maryland weather patterns throughout the month of April, it’s likely we haven’t been thinking too much about the beach, the pool or taking the boat out on the weekend just yet (although that may change as temperatures in Carroll are expected to approach 90 degrees later this week).

But by the end of this month, people will be using the three-day Memorial Day weekend to make their first trip “downy ocean” or opening the pool. That’s one of the reasons the month of May is designated as National Drowning Prevention Awareness Month.

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About 10 drowning deaths occur every day in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death for children ages 1 to 4.

It’s also estimated that as many as 20 percent of near-drowning victims suffer some sort of severe, permanent neurological disability, according to the National Drowning Prevention Alliance.

The NDPA suggests that layers of protection are necessary to safeguard against drowning. Some of these are more obvious than others; at least they should be.

First and foremost, never leave a young child unattended in or near water – a pool, the ocean or even a bathtub – even if lifeguards are present.

A combination of appropriate fencing, self-closing and self-latching gates, and safety covers are also recommended for home swimming pools, which is where a majority of youth drowning deaths occur.

The organization also recommends swimming lessons for youngsters — or anyone who doesn’t know how to swim. Humans, instinctively, do not know how to swim and must be taught to do so. But even someone who has had swimming lessons can still drown, particularly in certain conditions.

Chesapeake boating season off to a deadly start with four deaths

With four people dead in boating accidents over the past 16 days, state and federal officials Friday called 2018 the deadliest start to the boating season in the past six years.

If you have a home pool, or even if you don’t, it also may be wise to learn CPR and rescue breathing skills. If you’ve been trained in CPR, but it’s been a few years, taking a refresher course probably isn’t a bad idea either. A number of companies and organizations in and around Carroll County offer CPR courses and certification. Visit redcross.org/take-a-class/cpr to find an upcoming class near you. (Carroll Hospital and Grace Lutheran Church in Westminster both have CPR training available this month.) The Red Cross also has water safety classes available in the region.

Now is also a good time for a reminder that while there are a number of natural swimming holes in Carroll County — Morgan Run, Patapsco State Park, Pipe Creek and the Union Mills Homestead to name a few — one place that isn’t a good spot to swim is Liberty Reservoir.

The reservoir, which provides water to parts of Carroll and Baltimore City, is kept extremely cold to maintain optimum water quality, leading to a higher risk of cramping and drowning. And because the reservoirs are manmade, there can be sudden shifts in water depth. It’s also difficult to see fallen trees or branches in the reservoir water. Swimming in any of the reservoirs is illegal and subject to fines up to $1,000 and/or 90 days in jail.

And if you’re on the water in a vessel of any sort, here’s a reminder that Maryland law requires a life jacket or personal flotation device for every person on board. Additional rules apply to children.

May just began, but fun in the sun — and water — is just around the corner. Take these steps to help prevent a drowning tragedy this summer.

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