The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Parks and Watercraft reminds Ohioans to stay alert and always practice safety first when swimming at public beaches such as Rocky Fork and Paint Creek Lake this summer.
“It’s important that all visitors understand the dangers of swimming in dark waters, especially for young children and inexperienced swimmers,” said ODNR Division of Parks and Watercraft Chief Glen Cobb. “Paying attention and watching out for each other is one of the best ways to make sure everyone has a safe and fun time at the beach.”
Most park swimming areas have been designated “swim at your own risk” and do not have lifeguards on duty.
To that end, ODNR’s Division of Parks and Watercraft recommends that all visitors:
• Keep a close eye on young children and inexperienced swimmers while they are in the water.
• Swim only in designated areas at the beach and lake. Buoys mark safer swim areas and swimming past those markers increases the risk for accidental drowning.
• Water conditions in lakes are often murky, and swimmers may not be able to determine how deep the water may be. Young and inexperienced swimmers should stay in shallower water close to the beach.
• Use the buddy system, which means designate one member of the group to stay on the beach to keep watch on the others while they swim.
• Only use approved life jackets and vests for young children and inexperienced swimmers. ODNR reminds park goers that all other flotation devices, including inflatables, are strictly prohibited.
• Check water quality advisories at the Ohio Department of Health’s BeachGuard website before leaving for the beach at www.odh.ohio.gov/healthybeaches.
• Pack all the necessities like towels, blankets, cell phones, snacks and sunscreen, but local ODNR Natural Resources Officer Adam Somerville advised everyone to leave the alcohol at home. Drinking alcoholic beverages and swimming do not mix.
ODNR advised everyone to take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the most important one being to stay home if you are sick.
Otherwise, they advise to stay at least six feet away from others, avoid gathering in groups larger than ten, wash hands often with soap and water or sanitizer, and make sure all trash is disposed of properly.
The Division of Parks and Watercraft manages several swimming beaches at Ohio state parks, including along Lake Erie.
This year, state park pools will not open due to COVID-19.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571