Enjoy the water, but be safe

Enjoy the water, but be safe

Run, dash, splash!

We are blessed to live in a place surrounded by water, where we can swim, fish, water ski, sail and kayak, among many other aquatic delights. However, Washington State, and our own O.O. Denny Park beach, are also home to many water injuries. In our state, drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury death for children and teenagers aged 1 to 17.

A beautiful beach, O.O. Denny Park is a delight for swimmers, divers,  sailors, and kayakers,  but the waters can be dangerous for untrained swimmers.

O.O. Denny Park’s beautiful beach delights  swimmers, divers, sailors, and kayakers, especially in summer, but its waters can also be dangerous.

There were 122 drowning deaths among residents of King County from the years 2008 to 2012, an average of 31 per year, according to King County statistics. In the United States as a whole,  3,782 lost their lives to drowning, 10 deaths per day on average.

Tragically, O.O. Denny Park beach has also been a site of many drownings and near drownings, as people forget how dangerous these waters can be.

Last year, a man who tried to swim to a buoy 300 feet out had to be rescued by sheriff’s deputies.

Sadly, too, there have been tragedies,  as in the case of David Ulm, the Kenmore man who was enjoying an evening down at the lake with his family when he volunteered to swim out into the lake to retrieve a ball in the dark; although Ulm was a certified diver and experienced swimmer, even he was no match for these fatally dangerous waters and drowned that fateful evening in 2012. One of two canoers in 2007 also lost his life when he fell overboard — and these are only a few notable recent cases of drownings here.

“Choose an area supervised with a life guard,” is the first tip from  Washington State Public Health. A word to the wise: O.O. Denny Park is maintained by Kirkland, but it does not yet have a life guard.

The following are Kirkland’s three beaches with lifeguards: Houghton, Waverly, and Juanita Beach. Click here for lifeguard schedule and more information.

O.O. Denny Park sunset

O.O. Denny Park sunset

Snohomish County’s sheriff’s office offers these tips: 

  • Always wear a life jacket. They’re available at many parks.
  • Know your limits; don’t try to swim beyond your skill level.
  • Expect the unexpected; currents change every season in lakes and rivers, and debris can develop; be aware of drop offs.
  • Likewise, beach logs, banks, and rocks can be slippery and a fall can knock you unconscious and make it impossible to save yourself.
  • Don’t boat or swim under the influence; operating a boat this way is illegal and puts you and others at risk.
  • Don’t dive in; two-thirds of catastrophic neck injuries happen in open water and sea.
  • Keep kids within arms reach; consider bringing a whistle, which could alert others if you or other are in trouble.

Here are other tips from state and county public health officials:

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