Swimming season starts with call to take care

Riga's municipal authorities said Monday they were prepared for the start of this summer's swimming season in rivers, lakes and the sea in and around the Latvian capital, but repeated annual warnings that swimmers should take care when entering the water.

Municipal police showed off their Baywatch-type rescue and medical skills to mayor Nils Ušakovs and municipal police chief Juris Lūkass.

This season official public swimming spots will be available at Vecāķi, Bābelīte, Vakarbuļļi, Daugavgrīva, Rumbula, Lucavsala and Ķīpsala with specially trained lifeguards on duty.

In 2015 they rescued four swimmers from the water, gave medical assisatnce to 2 people and took care of 19 lost children on Riga's beaches.

Since 2003 no lives have been lost on Riga municipal beaches, a sharp contrast with the national picture. Last year State Fire And Rescue (VUGD) teams pulled 109 dead bodies from Latvia's waterways. That number was down on 2014's total of 154 victims but this year, even before the main swimming season gets underway, VUGD crews have had to pull 30 bodies from the water.

The VUGD is repeating its advice to swimmers and boaters for "swimming without tragedy": DON'T go in to the water alone or go too far (cramp can strike), DON'T use alcohol and DO pay particular attention to children by the water's edge.

And remember - in an emergency the number to call is 112.

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