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Drew: Stay Safe This Summer When Snorkeling

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By Samuetta Hill Drew

Summer is now official, and temperatures are beginning to spike. As temperatures climb to the mid and upper 90° Fahrenheit people look for various ways to stay cool. Summer activities involving water is one of the most common choices many people make.  Whether it is in, on or under the water, it remains a popular place people seek fun and to cool off during the summer heat.
The next few articles will explore some popular summer water activities, along with associated safety tips, so you and your love ones can remain safe while participating in them. Let’s start with snorkeling – an increasingly popular water activity for all ages.
Remember snorkeling is a buddy activity and should not ever be done alone. It is a water activity which allows people an opportunity to discover some of the wonders of ocean life while exercising one’s body and senses. It does not require a lot of gear like scuba diving.
• It is important to purchase good quality snorkeling equipment which fits properly. Your mask should fit your face. It should seal perfectly without you having to hold it in place. Select a pair of fins that fit snugly, but not too tight. If they hurt or your toes curl slightly it may result in cramps. It is recommended you purchase ones that are a little bigger versus too small.
• Become very comfortable and familiar with your equipment before you participate in the actual activity. You can practice in the pool or the shallow section of the beach. Always practice breathing. Practice through your snorkel with your head outside the water first. Put your mask on and breathe through the tube. Refrain from biting the tube. Rest your teeth or jaw, otherwise they will become sore fast.
• Be comfortable in the water. It is best if you can swim. Practice the classic calm floating down in the water to help build your confidence. Being relaxed also makes you less threatening to marine life so they will begin to act more normal. Avoid the black sea urchin called wana.
• Since you are in the open water, it’s important you pay attention. Never turn your back on the ocean. A big wave could be approaching. Watch the surf and surge on reef and rocks. Never swim against the current, rather swim diagonally. Duck or dive under breaking waves to avoid the force instead of trying to jump over them or turning your back to them.
• Have a snorkeling first aid kit of peroxide, antibiotic ointment and cigarettes (tobacco stops most stings). Stay hydrated – don’t mix drinking and snorkeling. Rest awhile after eating and know your limits.
A good safety rule to help Keep an Eye on Safety is to watch and follow the behavior of the people native to the area. If they are not in the water this may be a cause of alarm and caution to you.