Trip to Adventure Island no fun in the sun for MacDill unit, group endures testing in water

Water safety, procedures

TAMPA - Full Army fatigues, combat boots and a water park.  One of these things is just not like the others, but for good reason.

Service men and women from MacDill Air Force Base took to the water Monday morning at Adventure Island at Busch Gardens, but it wasn't for fun in the sun.  Dozens of them were working to pass their annual Water Survival Training.  

In full gear that weighed about twenty pounds when wet, the unit treaded water, swam beneath a parachute, swam 15 meters underwater, simulated a rescue while doing the backstroke as well as other tests to pass this year's training course.

"Were a joint unit, also an airborne unit," said Captain Barry Ciotti. 

"We sometimes have water jumps where we jump out of an aircraft into say like the bay, that's where we would use some of these techniques."

Surprisingly though, some of the skills they were tested on can help the everyday family when it comes to water safety.

"I know in my backyard I have a pond, my kids end up in that pond, I just hope they can swim or remain calm until someone can get them out," said Captain Ciotti.

Captain Ciotti also says remaining calm is the number one safety tip people forget when dealing with water safety. 

It might also be helpful to make sure a flotation device of some sort is near the water in the area where both kids and adults will be.  That simple safety measure could be the difference between life and death.

The American Red Cross has provided the following tips when it comes to your family's water safety:

(1) Those who are inexperienced swimmers, especially young children, should wear life jackets which are U.S. Coast Guard approved.  Not just while in the water, but around the area as well.  

(2) No diving head first, even if the water is deep enough.  Diving head first, even for the experienced diver, could result in head or neck injuries.

(3) When at the beach, wave action can take anyone's footing.  Be sure to pay close attention to children and the elderly even when they are standing in shallow water as that can become a dangerous place to be as well.

(4)  When at the beach, leave clumps of plants or animals alone.  Some of those plants and animals, even if they don't appear dangerous could be.  Especially for smaller children.

For more tips on water safety, especially when it comes to rip currents which are common, visit  www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/water-safety/beach-safety .

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