Every summer, as the weather warms, people head out to local rivers, ponds and beaches to cool off.

But such fun times can turn tragic in an instant, as we’ve seen far too often over the years.

Injury or inexperience can lead people to losing their way in the water and drownings can occur on any occasion.

Having lifeguards on duty at popular beaches can literally be a lifesaver, and we give thanks to our North Country neighbors who put in the time and training to become lifeguard-certified.

You can read more about how to become a certified state lifeguard at https://tinyurl.com/4yf

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But let’s also discuss stopping water tragedies before they even occur.

That means being prepared. Drowning is the top cause of injury-related deaths for children ages 1 to 4 and the third-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children 19 and younger, according to safekids.org.

Here are some safety tips to follow from safekids.org and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

• Make sure your children learn basic swimming and water safety rules. Infants can often learn to swim before they walk.

• Adults supervision is critical, whether at home, in a public pool or in a waterway. Supervising adults should avoid distracting activities such as reading, using the phone or consuming alcohol or drugs. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends “touch supervision,” meaning the adult is no more than an arm’s length away from a child around water.

• Use life jackets. Whether near natural bodies of water or at the pool or water park, make sure your child wears a life jacket that fits properly and is approved by the U.S. Coast Guard.

• Install fences around home pools, irrigation ditches, drainage ditches and ponds. Fences should be at least 4 feet tall with self-closing and self-latching gates.

• Understand and know the risks of lakes, rivers, oceans and rivers; they all have hidden hazards.

• Learn CPR and other water rescue skills. Even the most vigilant parent or guardian might be faced with an accident or injury.

All those tips lead to one point: Be ready.

You never know when you might be called on to save a life. So always remember to be prepared.

— The Herald Bulletin Editorial Board contributed to this editorial.

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