Crews stress ‘don’t go alone’ as pools open for holiday weekend

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- As pools open for the Memorial Day holiday weekend, officials with Henrico Fire and Police are urging parents to be keep safety top-of-mind.

“Always make sure you’re swimming with a buddy. Parents, always make sure that your younger children don’t go to the pool alone," said John Waters with Henrico Police.

Here’s what you can do if you see someone drowning, without jumping in the water.

“Using a object such as a stick or rope or even an inflatable that you can throw to the person," Waters explained.

More Pool Safety Tips from the American Red Cross

  • Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
  • Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone.
  • Never leave a young child unattended near water and do not trust a child’s life to another child; teach children to always ask permission to go near water.
  • Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone.
  • Maintain constant supervision and avoid distractions when supervising children around water.
  • Make sure everyone in your family learns to swim well. Enroll in age-appropriate Red Cross water orientation and learn-to-swim courses.
  • If you have a pool, secure it with appropriate barriers. Many children who drown in home pools were out of sight for less than five minutes and in the care of one or both parents at the time.
  • If a child is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.
  • Have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit.
  • Know how and when to call 911 or the local emergency number.
  • Protect your skin. Limit the amount of direct sunlight you receive between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. and wear sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 15.
  • Drink plenty of water regularly, even if you’re not thirsty. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine in them.
Pool Safety

Pool Safety

River Safety 

Other folks were enjoying the holiday weekend at the James River versus the pool.

“Pool's really crowded since it’s opening weekend, so we decided to come to Belle Isle," Jake Weiss explained.

Christopher Mills and his wife brought their dog, Tiger,  to the river.

“He’s getting pretty hot and we figured a dip in the water might be a good idea and it’s been his first swim," Mills said.

The James River

The James River

Richmond Fire and EMS officials urged river visitors to be aware of the potential dangers -- like the "drowning machine."

River Safety Tips  from Richmond Fire

  • Ensure that everyone in the family learns to swim well and swim in designated areas
    supervised by lifeguards.
  • Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone.
  • Never leave a young child unattended near water and ensure a responsible adult is monitoring; teach children to always ask permission to go near or in water.
  • Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone, supervise them.
  • Even if you do not plan on swimming, be cautious wading around natural bodies of water including ocean shoreline, rivers and lakes. Cold temperatures, currents and underwater hazards can make a fall into these bodies of water dangerous.
  • Never mix alcohol and water activities (even if you’re not getting in) as it impairs judgment, balance, coordination, swimming skills, reduces the body’s ability to stay warm. Alcohol isn’t allowed in city parks or pools without written permission.
  • Know how and when to call 911 or utilize the local emergency call system available.
  • If you own a home pool or hot tub, have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets, and a first aid kit.
  • By law when on the James in the City of Richmond, if water levels are at 5 feet and above, everyone on the river must wear an approved lifejacket.
  • Water levels for the James can be checked by calling the National Weather Service at 804-646-8228 select option 4 for water levels then wait to hear the Richmond Westham totals. Or you can utilize the River Level Web Application.

Officials said more than one million people visited the James River Park System last year.

Water rescue teams had 172 calls for service of which 94 people were rescued from the water and 6 submerged victims were recovered, according to Richmond Fire.

James River Car Break-Ins 

Police also warned river visitors to protect their belongings left in their cars over the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

“If you're headed out to enjoy the James River Park System don't forget to LOCK UP those valuables,” Richmond Police posted on Facebook.

The warning comes following an uptick in car break-ins along the James River in April.

Richmond Police Lt. Brian Prendergast previously told WTVR CBS 6 thieves targeted high-value items like laptops and purses left in plain view in the car.

If you want to keep your belongings, officers say, "Lock it or lose it."

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