FARGO — Hello Friends! (I have decided that I am allowed to call all youse guys friends now that I've been writing this column for 18 weeks.)

I hope your week was wonderful and that you are ready to take on another gloriously sun-and-lake-filled weekend!

(Side note, since we are friends now, does anyone know how to make my bitey pup Chief stop using me as a chew toy? I am serious, my hands look like I got in a fight. Thank you in advance.)

Today's column is brought to you by writer's block and my dearest cousin who gave me the idea for this wonderful edition of Friday 5. She just became a boat person and has three beautiful daughters who I swear are part fish. I love them all so much and don't want anything to happen to them ever.

Summer is a time for boating and water. Especially here in central Minnesota and eastern North Dakota, just miles from lakes country.

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Relaxing on the pontoon while the kiddos splash in the shallows and long days spent at the lake or pool can mean endless fun, but how do we make sure that fun stays safe? Well, you're in luck. Hitch up your bass trackers, Bayliners and party barges. This week's Friday 5 is alllll about the safety. Water safety. Woo.

Educate yourself

Swimming is great exercise and a great way to spend time together as a family. However, it can turn scary very quickly.

Taking basic swimming lessons — for both adults and children — helps to brush up on skills already learned, as well as teach habits for the first time. Whichever way you look at it, everyone will stay safe. The YMCA of Cass Clay offers swimming lessons to swimmers of all ages in both private and class settings year-round.

No matter where you learn, swimming lessons teach water safety, help build confidence around water and so much more.

Feetfirst

Diving into a pool or lake headfirst may seem like a good idea, but always be sure to look before you leap. Feetfirst is the best way to ensure your noggin stays safe so you can keep splashing in the sun for years to come. Getty Images / Special to The Forum
Diving into a pool or lake headfirst may seem like a good idea, but always be sure to look before you leap. Feetfirst is the best way to ensure your noggin stays safe so you can keep splashing in the sun for years to come. Getty Images / Special to The Forum

As wonderful as it may seem to do a flying leap into that cool lake when it's 90 degrees and humid outside, feetfirst is the way to do it.

Your noggin is probably the greatest part of your body. It houses your nervous system, your beautiful face and, of course, that big, smart brain of yours. Taking a swan dive off the dock or diving board into shallow water can result in severe injuries. Feetfirst is the way to go to avoid accidents. You'd much rather scuff up your heel than your noodle, wouldn't you?

Ensuring swimmers (and child swimmers especially) learn the proper way to dive into the water, as well as where safe diving areas are located, can help keep everyone safe and splashin' for years to come — beautiful face, smart brain and all.

Thirsty?

This one SHOULD be obvious, but sometimes the obvious isn't, well, obvious.

Guys, lakes and pools are gross. I mean, it's not going to stop me from swimming in them when it's hot out (except maybe pools — they're unnaturally warm and it gives me the heebie-jeebies). But it will stop me from opening my mouth and taking a big gulp when I am feeling parched.

Think about it. Fish pee in lakes. Kids pee in lakes. There are billions of little microorganisms that call that big body of water home. Do you really want pee and bugs inside your mouth? I sure don't.

The same goes for swimming pools. Do you know why your eyes turn red when you're in a swimming pool? Think back to the theme of this tip... That's right, pee. The CDC says nitrogen in urine combines with chlorine to form something called chloramine. That new substance turns your peepers from a beautiful blue to a scary red.

Thirsty? Take a break from the lake and grab a drink. You probably need a minute to recover from those pruny fingers.

Swimming buddies

It's easy to lose track of little ones (or even big ones) when things get wild. That's where swimming buddies come in.

Assigning kids and adults swimming buddies helps to keep track of everyone. It's way easier to realize your buddy is missing when you're always with them.

Besides, isn't it more fun to swim with friends than swim alone?

Floaties

Even pups have the option to stay safe when on the lake. Getty Images / Special to The Forum
Even pups have the option to stay safe when on the lake. Getty Images / Special to The Forum

Now this one may seem dumb, and I really need to start following my own advice: life jackets, those brightly colored personal flotation devices that can sometimes mean the difference between breathing air and breathing water if you're ever tossed off the side of a boat.

Life jackets keep you afloat and will pop you back above water if necessary. Young children and inexperienced swimmers should always wear a life vest when around water, and especially if they're on the boat or kayak.

But remember, life jackets and flotation devices are not an excuse to ignore water safety. They're not enough when it comes to staying safe around water.

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Friday 5 is a weekly column featuring quick tips, tricks, ideas and more — all in bunches of five. Readers can reach Forum reporter Emma Vatnsdal at 701-241-5517.