Columbia public pools set to open

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COLUMBIA - Columbia Parks and Recreation officially opened its pools Thursday.

Parks and Recreation opened the following pools at noon:

  • Albert-Oakland Family Aquatic Center, 1900 Blue Ridge Road
  • Lake of the Woods, 6700 St. Charles Road
  • Douglass Family Aquatic Center, 400 N. Providence
  • Little Mates Cove at Twin Lakes, 2500 Chapel Hill Road
S.J. Idel, recreation specialist for the aquatics division, said even though there are lifeguards at the pools, parents and adults need to keep a watchful eye on their swimmers.

"A lot of people feel that if there's lifeguards at that facility, it's going to be totally safe and that's always not necessarily the case," he said.

Idel said there could be up to 800 people at the Albert-Oakland Family Aquatic Center on a sunny day. Though each pool staffs a varying number of lifeguards, Idel said each pool has at least 10 monitoring swimmers at a time.

"You're looking at almost 100 people per lifeguard," Idel said.

Idel said even some skilled swimmers forget to pace themselves while out in the sun.

"People that are good swimmers don't realize that being out in the sun all day, not hydrating yourself can wear you out pretty quickly whether you're a kid, an adult or teenager," he said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ten people die from drowning every day. Two out of ten of these people are children aged 14 or younger.

To keep things safe and fun, the American Red Cross suggests swimmers abide by these rules:

  • 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.
  • Maintain constant supervision.
  • Avoid distractions when supervising children around water.
  • If a child is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.
  • 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. 

For more swimming safety tips, visit the American Red Cross' website.