Safety precautions need to be taken around all water environments. According to the Center for Disease Control, about half of all drowning incidents occur in natural water settings such as lakes, rivers or oceans. And almost 75 percent of people killed in boating accidents die as a result of drowning. As the summer boating season kicks off, there are steps houseboaters can take to keep their children safer in the water. The United States Swim School Association has put together the following guidelines to help keep children safe while in the water.
1. Make sure your children know how to properly wear a lifejacket.
2. Personal flotation devices (PFDs) should always be U.S. Coast Guard approved. Never substitute water wings or other recreational type floating toys for an approved PFD.
3. Create a water safety plan for your family and have water emergency drills with your kids covering how to recognize the signs of someone struggling in water and what to do in this type of emergency.
4. Teach your children the “throw, don’t go” rescue method. Instead of entering the water to help a struggling person, teach your child to throw in a rope, reach with a stick, paddle or other object to pull the person in.
5. If your child is playing near a natural body of water and accidentally falls in, teach him to roll over on his back and float until help arrives if exiting the water is not an option. (www.usswimschools.org)