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Staying Safe – In and Around Water

Every day, about ten people die from unintentional drowning. Of these, two will be children aged 14 or younger. Drowning is the fifth leading cause of unintentional injury death for people of all ages, and the second leading cause of injury death for children ages 1 to 14 years.

Before your family heads out to the water, make sure you are prepared to practice water safety by using these safety tips;

Wearing a Life Jacket and Picking an Infant Appropriate Life Jackets

  • Always have your children wear a life jacket approved by the U.S. Coast Guard while on boats, around open bodies of water or when participating in water sports.
  • Make sure the life jacket fits snugly. Have kids make a "touchdown" signal by raising both arms straight up; if the life jacket hits a child's chin or ears, it may be too big or the straps may be too loose.
  • According to the U.S. Coast Guard's Office of Boating Safety, babies should not travel on a boat — including rowboats, kayaks, motorboats, and sailboats — until they are at the appropriate weight to wear an approved personal flotation device (PFD). Here's some more information on how to choose the right life jacket.

Keep Little Kids Warm

  • Infants and young kids are at a higher risk for hypothermia, so if you are taking a baby on a boat, just take a few extra precautions to keep your baby warm. If your children seem cold or are shivering, wrap them tightly in a dry blanket or towel.

Don't Rely on Swimming Aids

  • Remember that swimming aids such as water wings or noodles are fun toys for kids, but they should never be used in place of a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device (PFD).

Childproof Your Boat and Develop Some Basic Rules

  • Explain some basic boat rules and have everyone follow them. Children need to understand and follow rules such as keeping their hands and feet inside the boat at all times and not running on a boat.

Use Your Best Judgment

  • A large portion of boating accidents that occur each year involve alcohol consumption by both boat operators and passengers. To protect your safety and loved ones around you, it is strongly recommended not to drink alcoholic beverages while boating.
  • We know you have a million things to do, but learning CPR should be on the top of the list. It will give you tremendous peace of mind – and the more peace of mind you have as a parent, the better.

Teach Your Kids the Difference between Open Water and Pools

  • Teach children that swimming in open water is not the same as swimming in a pool: They need to be aware of uneven surfaces, river currents, ocean undertow and changing weather.
  • Make sure kids swim only in areas designated for swimming.
  • Teach children not to dive into oceans, lakes or rivers, because you never know how deep the water is or what might be hidden under the surface.

Actively Supervise Kids in and around Open Water

  • Every child is different, so enroll your child in swimming lessons when you feel he or she is ready. Teach children how to tread water, float and stay by the shore.
  • Actively supervise children in and around open bodies of water, giving them your undivided attention.
  • Whenever infants or toddlers are in or around water, an adult should be within arm’s reach to provide active supervision. If children are near water, then they should be the only thing on your mind. Small children can drown in as little as one inch of water.
  • When there are several adults present and children are swimming, designate an adult as the “Water Watcher” for a certain amount of time (such as 15-minute periods) to prevent lapses in supervision.

If you have questions or find yourself in need of resources, contact St. Luke’s Children’s Injury Prevention at (208) 381-1719.