Team Andersen observes ocean safety

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Mariah Haddenham
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
Approximately 70 percent of the Earth's surface is covered in it, nearly 60 percent of the human body is made of it, and the island of Guam is completely surrounded by it. Water is everywhere, and it provides Team Andersen with many recreational pastimes.

One of those, swimming, is an activity easily available to members of the base. However, swimmers should be aware of their own personal limitations and local safety concerns before entering the water.

Each body of water is unique and comes with specific precautions that should be taken, according to the 36th Wing Safety office. Guam's waters are infamous for sudden depths and rip currents, which are strong surface currents, flowing seaward from the shore usually appearing as a visible band of agitated water. They can be hazardous to even the best swimmers.

"Rip currents create a washing machine effect near or on the reef's edge, and swimmers who find themselves caught in a rip current should swim away from the reef and wait for rescue," said Staff Sgt. Michael Evans, 36th Wing Staff ground safety technician. Guam has no continental shelf, meaning the water gets deep at an accelerated rate. A comparison would be like would be stepping off the edge of a table.

"If you aren't a strong swimmer, Guam's waters, or any body of water really, can be a dangerous place," said Senior Airman Stacy C. Turnipseed, 36th Wing Staff ground safety technician. "With the nearly perfect weather all year long, and the easily accessible beaches, it's in every individual's best interest to know their limitations as a swimmer."

According to consumer reports, drowning is a leading cause of accidental death in the United States, and is responsible for approximately 2,000 deaths a year. Accidents like these can be prevented by following simple guidelines put in place for the safety of Team Andersen.

Swimmers at Tarague are advised to swim and snorkel in buoyed areas only. They should always have a wingman, and wear coral boots while walking or snorkeling. Military members and families are encouraged to use U.S. Coast Guard approved life vests. In addition, there is no scuba diving on Andersen beaches, and no reef-walking on the island. Air-filled toys are prohibited and patrons on Andersen should not drink alcohol if they plan on entering the water.

"Guam's waters are unique," said Staff Sgt. Michael Evans, 36th Wing Staff ground safety technician. "It is easy to get pulled out by the current and you never know when you might find yourself in a position where you may need to swim for your life. Education about Guam's waters could be what saves your life."

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