“Anytime there’s moving water,” he said, “just stay out of that area.”
Karen Jenozese is owner of Concord-based Swim NH, which she said trains 300 to 500 lifeguards annually in northern New England.
“Even if you are a good swimmer, it is difficult to swim in a current,” Jenozese said. “It’s too dangerous, too unpredictable.”
Dunleavy said people should be extremely familiar with the bodies of water where they are swimming.
Rivers can change overnight from a sandy to murky bottom, he said. “Our rivers and streams change with high water.”
Other drowning victims have been in canoes and kayaks, without life jackets, Jenozese said.
“No one should be in a canoe or a kayak, no matter how great a swimmer they are, without a life jacket on,” she said.
Parents have to closely watch children around the water.
“Even when a lifeguard is present, that doesn’t take out the adult factor,” Emanuelson said. “A lifeguard can’t see everything.”
“Children under the age of 10 should be within arm’s reach of their parents,” Jenozese said.
Windham fire Chief Tom McPherson recalled how a child died last year in a pool accident.
“I think when it comes to pool safety, we need to secure gates or remove ladders,” McPherson said.
“It’s tough because we know the high level of energy small children have and their inquisitive natures,” he said. “Sometimes as parents you don’t always have enough eyes to watch every move.”
Dunleavy wants families to consider life jackets for kids who are around the water. “Life jackets don’t just have to be worn on boats,” he said.
Watch the drinking, too, officials warn.
Dunleavy said people who are boating or swimming can become impaired faster in conditions that combine humidity, glare and alcohol.