Weather forecasters are predicting the outdoor temperature could reach 100 degrees by the time the Fourth of July holiday arrives. Whenever that happens, the potential for tragedy also escalates as people head to nearby rivers and lakes.

We make his plea every year about this time: That people show extra caution around water, so that their fun doesn’t turn into a rescue operation — or worse — a body recovery.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Portland District, issued a press release Thursday, telling us what we already know, but too often forget. Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death, yet the number of deaths by drowning could be reduced drastically if everyone would wear a personal flotation device.

The Corps reports that 89 percent of those who drown at U.S. Army Corps lakes and rivers would have survived if they had been wearing life jackets.

Yet, a simple observation of those swimming on the Sandy and Clackamas rivers demonstrate just how few people heed that warning. Odds are good that sometime this summer, The Outlook, Sandy Post or Estacada News will run stories about people who set off for fun-filled days on the river, but with that day ending in a drowning.

Here are some safety tips to help you have a safe and enjoyable Independence Day holiday, and throughout the entire summer:

• Swimming in open water is different and more difficult than in a swimming pool. You may tire more quickly and danger comes in many forms: waves, currents, exhaustion, lack of experience or a decrease in abilities.

• Even the best swimmers can misjudge their skills and abilities while swimming in a lake or river.

• Conditions change quickly in open water.

• While wearing a life jacket, you will not use as much energy to swim, it will help you float and — most importantly — it will help ensure your safe return to those who love you.

• While on or near the water, watch your children at all times. It only takes 20 seconds for a child to drown.

• Properly rescuing someone should never include contact, unless you are a trained lifeguard. Reach out to the victim with an object, to keep your distance, or throw them something that floats, and pull them to safety.

• Boaters or those swimming near boats need to be aware of carbon monoxide — an odorless, invisible and silent killer, which can accumulate anywhere in or around any boat regardless of what type of boat it is. Because carbon monoxide is heavier than air and lighter than water, it floats on the water’s surface; inhaling carbon monoxide can be deadly.

Safety first

In addition to safety in and around water, let’s not forget that many people are hurt each year by fireworks — the legal kind, but especially by the illegal kind.

Flying fireworks can cause fires that destroy homes and damage other property. And burns are an ever-present danger.

Please be a considerate neighbor by making this the year that you keep it legal. Even better, nearby communities — Corbett. Sandy and Estacada — plan nighttime firework displays, which are the best alternatives to an explosive Independence Day.

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