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Calling All Babysitters!

My first American Red Cross experience came at 11 years old when I enrolled in a Red Cross Babysitter’s Training course. Eager to earn a little extra spending money, I had plans to start caring for children in my neighborhood and knew I needed to prepare myself for whatever my charges might literally and figuratively throw at me.

The decision to become a babysitter ended up a great one, as it led to years of gainful summer and weekend employment and began me on my journey to a life-long partnership with the Red Cross.

25 years later, the Red Cross continues to offer babysitting courses to students ages 11 and older. The courses, available mainly online, provide participants with the knowledge and skills necessary to safely and responsibly care for infants and children and to manage their own babysitting businesses.

The Babysitting Basics online course takes approximately 4 hours to complete and includes videos, interactive games, and downloadable resources covering basic caregiving skills (holding, carrying, diapering, feeding, bathing, etc.), what to do in emergency situations, how to play with children, how to interact with parents, and how to build a babysitting business. The course is designed for children between the ages of 11-15.

For those 16 and up, the Red Cross offers the online-only Advanced Child Care Training. This training features the latest in learning techniques – simulation learning – for an engaging format that students of this generation prefer.

My almost 9-year-old son, while still a little young for babysitting, loves to look out for his younger sister, cousins, and friends. I plan to enroll him in an online Red Cross babysitting course in a couple of years, knowing that along with learning how to care for younger children, he’ll learn how to deal with emergencies, the basics of building a business, and how to work with adults in a professional manner. Sounds like a pretty good introduction to real life responsibility!


Whether your future babysitter wants the Babysitting Basics course or the Advanced Child Care Training course for older, it is guaranteed to be a fun and educational course.

Summer Safety Myths, Busted! (New Podcast)

 

Check Out Education Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with The Barton Report on BlogTalkRadio

 

The Barton Report from the American Red Cross has summer safety on our minds. In this episode, don’t miss:

  • Quiz with our intern, Sam, on heat and severe weather safety.
  • Stories from Meghan, a Red Cross volunteer, on her personal Red Cross experience and deploying to wildfires.
  • Interview with a Scientific Advisory Council expert on first aid and swimming myths vs. facts.

If you’ve ever wondered if children’s arm floaties are safe, or what safe havens aren’t really safe during a storm, stick in an earbud and tune in!

Listen here if the above player doesn’t work for you.

Special thanks to Audionautix for providing music clips.

Pizza Guy Delivers! Recognized for Saving Stranger’s Life

Post by Patricia Billinger, originally published on Colorado Stories.

Google “pizza delivery guy CPR” and you’ll come across dozens of news articles from all over the country about Anson Lemmer, a 19-year-old who saved a stranger’s life using the CPR skills he first learned through Red Cross babysitter training when he was just turning into a teenager.

His all-American look, humble hero’s mien and unforgettable quote – “I left a pizza boy and returned a pizza man” – have endeared him to the world and thrust him into the spotlight. He’s a fantastic kid with a unique story.

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Anson Lemmer (R) used CPR skills he learned in a Red Cross
Babysitter class to save a man’s life.

But what’s most unusual about Anson’s story is that it got told at all.

Why? First of all, Anson’s story is unique because we found out and got a chance to thank him.

The Lifesaver Award

On July 17, the Red Cross presented Anson with a Red Cross Lifesaver Award for using his CPR skills to save a life. We present a handful of the awards every year, and it’s one of the favorite aspects of my job. Just like Anson, nearly all of the recipients are humble and say they were just doing what their training taught them to do. In fact, an untold number of the everyday heroes who perform CPR never receive recognition of any kind because no one alerts us or the media to the lifesaving work they performed.

On the same day we presented Anson with an award, we traveled 168 miles away to recognize a Kremmling man with a Lifesaver Award for pulling a man out of a lake and reviving him using CPR. The story made the local news, but didn’t sky rocket to national attention like Anson’s tale.

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The Red Cross honored Todd Nelson on the same day as Anson.
Todd saved a man’s life by using lifeguarding skills he learned 
decades ago through a Red Cross training.

Call to Get Trained

Reason #2 Anson’s story is unique: Not enough everyday people recognize the importance of knowing CPR and First Aid, and so they don’t get trained. When an emergency strikes, bystanders often call 911 but otherwise might not know how to help. Some people make a valiant attempt to help, guided by 911 operators and/or what they’ve watched on TV. Others, unfortunately, fall prey to the “bystander” effect and assume that someone else will do something about the emergency.

Cardiac arrest strikes more than 500,000 people every year in the United States. On June 30, 2015, the Institute of Medicine released a report outlining recommendations for increasing cardiac arrest survival rates. One of the key recommendations was educating and training the general public in how to recognize and respond to cardiac emergencies.

In my six years with the Red Cross, I’ve met about a dozen everyday heroes like Anson. Each story is different…

…But what they each share in common is that these heroes got trained and used their training – sometimes decades later! – to take action and save a life. As so many of the heroes have told me:

“When you take the training, you hope you’ll never have to use it.”

“ I never thought I would use it.”

“I thought I would never remember what to do. And then it all came back to me.”

You never know when an emergency will strike. It could be at work, at home, at the park, on the highway.

We need more Ansons out there.  And we can have them!

YOU could be the next Anson. You could end up saving the life of someone you love dearly – or the life of a total stranger. You might not achieve fame and fortune, but if you could save a life…wouldn’t it be worth it?

Read more about Anson’s and Todd’s heroic stories here: http://www.redcross.org/news/article/Two-Locals-Honored-for-Using-CPR-to-Save-Lives . If you’re inspired, we hope you will sign up for a CPR class near you or take one online today at www.redcross.org/classes.

“Life Changing” Work in Nepal

by Anne Reynolds

Anne was deployed as part of a joint American Red Cross/Danish Emergency Relief Unit to help support distribution of cash and relief items following the earthquake in Nepal. 

Nepal has always been a place that I wanted to visit, but until now I had never made the trip. Like most Red Crossers, when I saw the devastation following the earthquakes, I felt the strong desire to help. Thankfully, I have the great privilege to make that desire reality as an American Red Cross International Disaster Services Roster Member.

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(Pictured: Anne with some of the recipients of Red Cross distributions.)

I deployed to Nepal on June 21, and after a few days in Kathmandu, I headed out to the Makwanpur District. Makwanpur is located just 1.5 hours from the border with India, and encompasses very diverse topography. The area ranges in altitude from just over 500 feet above sea level to over 8,000 feet above sea level. There are a number of rivers running through the district and the roads in and around the area can be quite treacherous. Inevitably there is always a section of the winding, narrow, switch-back road that has experienced at least a small landslide. The blind curves cause the drivers to honk constantly, and we are always on alert. No Sunday driving here!

The district headquarters, Hetauda, is a small but bustling city, and I have been working primarily from the Nepal Red Cross Chapter headquarters here. The local Red Cross staff is simply amazing! Our goal is to reach 2,000 households with full NFRI kits, cash and hygiene kits. In the 15 days I have been here, we have managed to meet with the local government officials for all the areas where distributions will occur, coordinate and agree on beneficiary lists, conduct a 10 percent audit to ensure we are reaching the most impacted areas, secure distribution sites, conduct distribution training for 25 local staff, and successfully complete two distributions in which 380 beneficiaries were served. Beneficiaries have been so happy to receive items, and we have experienced no negative responses. The staff is proud of their accomplishments, and they are feeling confident about their ability to establish distribution sites and conduct distributions. This week, we are moving to a municipality known as Thaha, and will provide items and cash to over 1,500 more households. The local staff has really got the system down, and we are confident we can reach over 300 beneficiaries per day.

My experience in Makwanpur has been truly exceptional. I have been fully embraced by my Nepal Red Cross family, and they have shown me nothing but kindness, generosity and appreciation since the day I arrived.  I had always heard about the kindness of the Nepali people, and I can now say firsthand it is so very true. I feel like I have really been “living” here in Nepal, not just visiting. The work has been hard, the days tiring, but I have enjoyed great friendship, and Nepalese food, daily. I have replaced my daily coffee routine with my new favorite – milk tea! It is a special blend made here in town, and my friends here ask me all day long if I want more. I must admit, I say yes probably too often.

Words cannot accurately describe the special place Nepal and my new family in Makwanpur will forever hold in my heart. This has not been just a mission for me, but rather a life-changing experience for which I will be eternally grateful.

Jumping the Shark – A Sharknado-Inspired Blog Post

Note: These are fictional rules about a real movie, with some real Red Cross tips snuck in. We hope you never encounter a sharknado, but that you ARE prepared for emergencies.

The thought of a sharknado, either real or imagined, is terrifying. Having survived two movies with a third on the way, we’ve had a lot of time to consider how we might handle a Sharknadopacalypse! So dip your toes into the waters of sharktastic silliness with us. But stay alert, as you may just learn something you can use!

Sharknado Rule #1: Protect yourself with whatever tools you can find.

Shotguns, baseball bats, barstools, surfboards and chainsaws! As we’ve learned through the first two movies, taking hold of any shootable or swingable object you can find dramatically increases your odds of surviving a sharknado.

In fact, having the right tools is critical to getting through any disaster. Among the best tools you can have in real life is the Red Cross Emergency App, which puts valuable emergency tips and resources at your fingertips!

And what better time than now to download it, as we’ve recently included exclusive sharknado tips in the app for a limited time. Head to the “Prepare” section of the app to learn how to spot the danger signs and how to deal with the aftermath, just in time for Sharknado 3! Oh hell no? Oh hell YES!

 

Sharknado Rule #2: Plan what to do in case you are separated during an emergency.

If we’ve learned anything from sharknado, it’s that splitting up and trying to take on a disaster by yourself isn’t the best idea. You need people to watch your back, and strength comes in numbers.

Establishing emergency meeting locations is a core component of any Red Cross disaster plan – it even applies to sporting events! Your family should establish two places to meet – right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, and outside your neighborhood (such as a friend or family member’s home), in case you cannot return home or are asked to evacuate.

Have a plan, and stick to it. One situation you want to avoid? Arguments at the last minute:

 

Sharknado Rule #3: Beware of the dark.

Matt Lauer and Al Roker are up before dawn for the TODAY Show, they should have known they might encounter a shark. No one is really safe during a sharknado, but regular shark safety tips should still apply: Avoid being in the water at night, dawn or dusk, when sharks are most active and not easily seen.

 

Sharknado Rule #4: Stay out of the water…and the streets…and your house…okay, nowhere is safe!

If sharks can end up in baseball stadiums, airplanes, helicopters and subway cars then, let’s face it, there really is no escape. But on your average day, your average shark spends most of their time in the water where they’ve spent a lifetime honing their swimming skills. If you decide to head out into water world (another silly movie for another time), we hope you’ve done some swim training of your own and taken your Red Cross swim lessons. Can you handle the sequence of water competency in order? Hint: this is NOT one of those things…

Sharknado Rule #5: Avoid the local hangouts.

Despite the fact that the occasional sharknado may rip through our local bar, amusement park, or baseball stadium, we humans still love our favorite gathering places. And just like us, sharks also have their favorite hangouts. When we all get through this latest sharknado, this is an important tip to remember: Exercise caution when occupying the area between sandbars or near steep drop-offs—these are favorite spots for sharks.

Sharknado Rule #6: Don’t panic.

Fin Shepard may have been scared to see sharks rain down from the skies, but despite the chaos and incredible bad luck, he kept his cool and managed to get himself safely through two (and presumably three) sharknadoes. Should you ever encounter a shark – the odds of which increase exponentially in a sharknado – don’t panic. Address the situation promptly and efficiently based on the tools and escape routes at your disposal. Remember actual shark safety tips such as not entering the water if sharks are known to be present, and evacuating the water swiftly but calmly if sharks are sighted.

 

Sharknado Rule #7: Stick together!

Regular beach goers should know there’s safety in numbers. Shark attacks are incredibly rare, but when they occur they are more likely to attack a solitary person than a group. The same concept applies for sharknadoes – strength in numbers creates powerful protection and confidence to get out alive.

Know how else you can stick together and help your sharknado comrades? Support sharknado victims (or anyone else in need of blood!) by donating blood or platelets this summer. Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood, and we assume that number shoots up during sharknadoes.

 

Bonus Tip: If Ian Ziering invites you to hang out with him near an ocean, maybe don’t. Dude is a sharknado magnet! And he plays a guy named Fin. FIN! Hello?!

 

Disclaimer: The Red Cross knows that Sharknado 3 is a made-for-TV disaster, and the tips above are no substitute for being prepared for an actual disaster. Download the Red Cross Emergency App today to be prepared in the event of an emergency in your area. Covering 35 real-time alerts and safety information, this all-in-one app is a must-have for your phone.

13 Reasons Why Clara Barton Should Be on #TheNew10

As many of you have heard, the U.S. Department of the Treasury is redesigning the ten dollar bill. In their search, they’re looking for a notable woman to put on it. At the American Red Cross, we think there is no better person to put on the ten dollar bill than our beloved founder, Clara Barton. In fact, we’ve came up with a few reason why we think she’s the perfect person. Feel free to share these images and facts on social and tag them with #TheNew10.

1. Dedication

Clara Barton spent most of her life dedicated to serving others.

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2. Equal Pay

While still a teenager, she began teaching school near North Oxford, Massachusetts at time when most teachers were men. The school offered her a position in the winter months with the same lower pay she received for the summer months. She stated “I may sometimes be willing to teach for nothing, but if paid at all, I shall never do a man’s work for less than a man’s pay.” Clara’s resolve and sterling reputation as a teacher won out and she was paid the same as the male teachers.

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3. Angel of the Battlefield

She was dubbed “the angel of the battlefield.” Following the battle of Cedar Mountain in northern Virginia in August 1862, she appeared at a field hospital at midnight with a wagon-load of supplies drawn by a four-mule team. The surgeon on duty, overwhelmed by the human disaster surrounding him, wrote later, “I thought that night if heaven ever sent out a[n] . . . angel, she must be one—her assistance was so timely.” Thereafter she was known as the “Angel of the Battlefield” as she served the troops at the battles of Fairfax Station, Chantilly, Harpers Ferry, South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Charleston, Petersburg and Cold Harbor.

4. Risk Taker

She risked her life more than once during the civil war to aid soldiers—one of the most dramatic happened at Antietam when Clara was giving a soldier a cup of water when he suddenly died. She then noticed a hole in her sleeve from a bullet that narrowly missed her and killed the soldier.

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5. Resourceful 

She removed a bullet from a soldier’s cheek with her pocket knife at Antietam.

6. Fierce Protector

At Antietam, she discovered a woman posing as a man fighting in the war—Mary Galloway. Mary was injured. Clara admired her defiance of custom and spirit to fight. She protected her and helped locate Mary’s future husband—who was also wounded and in a Washington hospital. They later named their eldest daughter after Clara Barton.

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7. Impartial in War

Impartiality was the watchword of her war work. She exhibited this sentiment in Culpeper by providing Confederate prisoners with sheets and clothing to alleviate their suffering.

8. First Aid Guru

She served as honorary president of the National First Aid Association of America founded in 1905. After leaving the Red Cross in her 80s, Clara traveled the country teaching people first-aid skills.

9. Approval from Honest Abe

In March of 1865, President Abraham Lincoln gave her permission to open the Office of Missing Soldiers. Through this effort, she managed to reconcile the fates of 22,000 missing men.

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10. Used World Travels for Good

After the Civil War, She traveled to Europe to rest, per the advice of her doctor. While in Geneva Switzerland, she was visited by two members of the International Red Cross. She learned about the movement. By 1870, the Franco Prussian war had started. She volunteered with the International Red Cross providing primarily civilian relief. Through this experience, she knew that her mission was to return to the United States and found a Red Cross Society.

11. International Issues Mover and Shaker

She lobbied the federal government to sign the Treaty of Geneva. She was finally successful in 1882.

12. Originator

The American Red Cross was founded in 1881 by Clara Barton.

13. Women’s Employment Front-runner

Clara Barton was one of the first female employees in the federal government. She worked for the US Patent office.

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Playing Monster Guard Teaches Aryn About disasters

Post written by Lynette Nyman, originally posted on the American Red Cross Minnesota Region blog.

Kids can learn just about anything these days. With help from the American Red Cross Monster Guard mobile app, they can learn about how to prepare for and respond to a variety of real-life emergencies, including tornadoes, floods, and other weather disasters. Take Aryn Gill who’s 8 years old.

“I finished it in two days. BOOM!,” she says after demonstrating how to play the game.Aryn_monsterGuard

She learned “how to cope when I’m in a disaster, when I’m scared. I need to feel calm, take a deep breath and blow it out.” She also learned about getting supplies and going to a safe place during a hurricane; screwing shelves to walls before earthquakes happen; and covering her mouth with a damp cloth if she doesn’t have a mask during a volcano. Home fire safety was a big learning moment, too: “I didn’t know I needed to make a primary escape plan.” And checking smoke alarms is really important she says, especially checking batteries: “once every month make sure your smoke alarms work.”

Aryn’s not a disaster rookie after finishing all Monster Guard levels and becoming a member. “I tell other kids they should play so they can learn about disasters, too.”

Photo: Aryn Gill, 8, graduated from rookie to member in two days playing the American Red Cross Monster Guard mobile app that prepares kids for emergencies. Photo credit: Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross

What the Women’s World Cup Can Teach About Disasters

Post written by Patricia Billinger of the Red Cross Colorado Chapters, originally featured on the Colorado Stories Blog.

Imagine trying to find someone in this crowd, everyone wearing the same colors. Photo by Patricia Billinger

On Sunday, my husband, mother, father and I were among the more than 50,000 jubilant fans swarming to BC Place in Vancouver for the Women’s World Cup Finals.The buzz among the crowd was palpable. Red, white and blue overtook the color spectrum, and fans decked out in their country’s colors thronged in every direction. We paused to take a photo.

And then we realized that my dad had continued on and disappeared somewhere into the swelling crowd.He had no ticket – my mother had both of theirs.

He had no cell phone, because he hadn’t wanted to risk incurring exorbitant international usage fees.

And they had no emergency meet-up plan. It hadn’t dawned on them that they might get separated.

We told my mom to stay put by a landmark (the statues of runner Terry Fox), and we fanned out in a widening circle in search of him. It was nearly impossible to tell one fan from another – everyone was wearing red, white and blue! Within 100 yards in either direction, the crush of the crowd became so tight that it was impossible to see past more than a few fans in any direction.We retraced our steps, sought higher ground to look out over the crowd, circled back to my mom twice. No luck. My mom’s panic rose as she considered the possibility that one or both of them might miss this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

For me, the minor personal emergency really drove home the importance of a message we at the Red Cross tell the public all the time: it is so important to have an emergency communications plan. Your plan should include an emergency meet-up location and a plan for how you’ll communicate if you can’t do so by cell phone.

The stress of being disconnected from my dad and unable to reach him was intense – but nothing remotely comparable to the fear and anxiety that accompanies being separated from your loved ones during a real emergency.

The worst thing that could happen to my parents that day was they could miss an amazing and historic soccer match.

During a disaster, your life, safety and property are at risk. Time is of the essence; you may not have time to circle in search of a husband, wife, daughter, son or pet.

During a disaster, there is a good chance that you won’t be able to reach each other by cell phone – cell towers get damaged or inundated, people flee without their phones, batteries die, phones get dropped or damaged.

During a disaster, you may not be surrounded by 50,000 fans dressed alike, but you may be evacuating alongside hundreds or thousands of other people. And unlike the limited geographic area of a city stadium, you may find yourself wondering which of many routes your loved ones took, which shelter they fled to – did they make it to a shelter at all? – which town they may be in.

Prior to the USWNT match, I recalled seeing media coverage of increased potential terrorist threats against the U.S. for the 4th of July weekend. A small part of me worried whether the World Cup match would be targeted. Thankfully, peace prevailed and the weekend was without incident – but it also got me thinking about what we would have done in such a scenario when we couldn’t even find each other amid the peaceful pre-game chaos.

Ultimately, our story has a happy ending: as the crowd dispersed into the stadium, my parents found each other and made it to our seats in time to watch the U.S. score 5 goals, the most ever scored in a Women’s World Cup Final. All was right in the world.

But we learned our lesson, and hopefully you can learn from our mistake. The next time you settle in to enjoy your favorite sport on TV, I encourage you to take a few minutes to make your emergency game plan. Sit down with your loved ones over half-time and talk about where you’ll meet up and how you’ll get in touch if disaster strikes. You can find sample plans, tips and specific steps to incorporate into your plan here: http://www.redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family/plan.

You may never need it, but you’ll be glad you have it so that you can focus on more pleasant things. Like winning the World Cup!

Red Cross 4 Our Troops

It’s that time of year when people start thinking about three things: fireworks, parades and family BBQs. However, the Fourth of July is also a great time to reflect on those who have served and those who continue to serve our country to protect the freedoms that we Americans enjoy every day.

In the spirit of the Fourth of July, here are four ways the Red Cross supports service members, veterans and their families 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

1. Holiday celebrations

When stationed overseas, Red Cross volunteers and staff are always ready to help military families celebrate holidays and special occasions, providing them with a taste of home. Red Cross staff and volunteers currently provide services to 33 overseas installations.

2. Fun activities

Recovering from illness or injury at the VA or a military hospital doesn’t always have to be serious business. Red Cross provides a variety of fun programs for service members and veterans to enjoy, such as art, horticulture and learning to scuba. Last year nearly 11,000 patients participated in therapeutic programs provided by the Red Cross.

3. Kids with heart

Red Cross youth are passionate about supporting service members and veterans. Volunteers provide support to members of the military, veterans and their families in military and veterans hospitals and become youth leaders and service providers on military installations.

4.Visits from a furry friend 

Nothing lifts the spirits of an ill or injured service member in the hospital like a wagging tail and sloppy kisses from a canine companion. Last year we served nearly 23,000 wounded, ill or injured through rehab and morale programs.

In celebration of Independence Day, show your support for our dedicated service members, veterans and their families using the generosity app from Google – One Today.

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Fourth of July: Top 5 Tips for Fireworks, Grilling and Swimming

There’s no place better to celebrate Independence Day than Washington, D.C. — The crowds! The heat! The patriotism!

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(See how patriotic it looks? See all the people? Good stuff.)

No matter if you’re heading to the National Mall this weekend or to a neighbor’s Fourth of July party, brush up on your firework, grilling and swimming tips to have an injury-free weekend.

Sparklers and Fireworks!

July4_Sparkler_firework

 

  1. Never give fireworks to small children, and always follow the instructions on the packaging.
  2. Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution.
  3. Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.
  4. Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight “a dud.”
  5. Never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.

Grilling!

Fourth-of-July-Grill-Tip-FINAL

 

  1. Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use.
  2. Never grill indoors – not in the house, camper, tent, or any enclosed area.
  3. Make sure everyone, including the pets, stays away from the grill.
  4. Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, the deck, tree branches, or anything that could catch fire.
  5. Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to keep the chef safe.

Swimming!

July4_water safety tip

 

  1. Be aware of the danger of rip currents. If caught in one, swim parallel to the shore until out of the current. When free, turn and swim toward shore. If unable to swim to the shore, call out for help, float or tread water until free of the rip current and then head toward shore. 
  2. If someone plans to swim in the ocean, they should always check weather conditions before going in the water.
  3. Swim only at a lifeguard protected beach, within the designated swimming area and listen to all lifeguard instructions.
  4. Always swim with a buddy and always swim sober.
  5. Young children and inexperienced swimmers should wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.

 

DC fireworks image credit: Steve Schwark