• Use life jackets instead of other flotation devices.
• Learn CPR and know how to respond in water emergencies.
• When swimming with kids, designate a "water watcher," taking turns with other adults.
• Never leave your child alone or in the care of older children at the pool.
Source: Chattanooga-Hamilton County Department
As Tennessee River waves kissed the shores of Chester Frost Park on Friday, someone in the media crowd joked about the semiannual water safety talk about to take place, calling it the "common-sense news conference."
Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department spokeswoman Abena Williams responded, "You'd be surprised."
On the eve of a long holiday weekend when many people will head to the water, safety officials reminded people to strap children in life jackets, avoid illegal drugs and keep alcohol away from boats.
"The most important part of water safety is constant supervision," said Carleena Angwin, an educator at the health department. "If you have small children, keep your eyes on them at all times."
Her remarks were part of the Health Department's new campaign focused on children, who can drown "silently and quickly."
"All it takes is looking away, talking to someone, answering a cell phone," Angwin said.
Williams said the media campaign, bolstered visually by posters distributed throughout the county, cost about $20. One poster suggests swimming lessons for children, characterizing it as "the gift that will last a lifetime."
According to Safe Kids USA, drowning deaths among children increase 89 percent during the summer months.
Angwin later turned the floor over to Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency boating accident investigator Matt Majors, who advised the recreational boating public to "leave your drugs and alcohol at home."
As with other warm weather holidays, a large TWRA force is expected to be out on area lakes this weekend, monitoring boaters for violations such as missing life jackets and boating under the influence.
The state agency reported 22 boating fatalities in 2009, newspaper archives show.