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Play it safe around canals
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Last weekend's heat seemed to surprise many people, but during this time last year, we experienced temperatures in the high 90's. The heat beckons people to cool off any way they can, so the lakes, coastal areas and rivers become popular sites for people looking for relief from the heat. Unfortunately, our local irrigation canals become tempting for some, since they are close and convenient.

Many people, kids in particular, drown in canals each year. Canal walls are steep, slick, and very difficult to climb out of. There are also areas where the water moves very swiftly such that it can easily pin even the best of swimmers under water, against the wall or bottom of the canal. Kids should not be allowed to play anywhere near canals, no matter how good their swimming skills are. Rapidly-flowing water is extremely powerful, often underestimated, and can overtake children and adults alike.

People also drown by falling into the water while walking or riding bicycles too close to the edge of canals, so it is important to keep a safe distance at all times. The water is usually quite cold, especially in the early part of the season. The cold water is a shock to one's system, and can sometimes lead to panic and disorientation. Panic is usually one of the main reasons people are unable to think their way out of a dangerous or life-threatening situation.

If a pet falls into the canal, do not jump in after it. It is important to call 911 for assistance. A person or pet that has fallen in and appears to be drowning makes for a difficult, potentially dangerous decision. No matter what, call 911 without delay. A rescue attempt could easily end up claiming more lives than just the original victim.

To be sure, canals are legally off-limits to the public. Entering into the water of a canal is considered trespassing and will lead to the violator being issued a citation or booked into jail. Some canal systems allow for walking or bicycling on designated paths, but this is not to suggest that the water is therefore also legally accessible.

Canal deaths are completely preventable. Do not swim or allow others to swim in canals - ever! Never tube, kayak or canoe in canals, as these activities are dangerous and illegal. Now is also a good time to make sure your kids take swimming lessons to learn more about water safety and increase their chances of surviving dangerous water situations. The city of Ceres Recreation Department will be offering swim lessons at Ceres High School this summer, please visit for more information and to sign your children up. I wish you all the safest possible summer.