Safety on the Water

It's time for the beach and water sports. Be safe; have fun!

By FamilyTime


Lakes, oceans, rivers, and ponds are endless sources of fun and entertainment, but without proper water safety skills and equipment, aquatic adventures can turn dangerous.

Simple Rules
A few simple rules will insure a great day. Most involve common sense and the determination to check for supplies and safety equipment before you set off. And it's a good idea to set limits for the length of time children can spend in the water and in the sun.

Once you establish waterside boundaries, you will feel more secure; the kids will know where they can wander on land and where they can swim.

Teach your child to swim at an early age. Not only is this is a lifelong gift, it's an important safety measure, too.

Many organizations offer swimming lessons, such as the YMCA, municipal recreation departments, and summer day camps. If your child or children are over five years old, don't put this off for another summer.

Oceans, lakes and ponds lure just about anyone out on a boat. Make sure the boat is equipped with US Coast Guard-approved life jackets. This is as important for rafts and canoes as for motor craft and sailboats. There should be a life jacket available for every person onboard at all times.

In larger boats, equipment such as air horns, extra line, life rings, and first aid kits should be available. A fleece blanket and extra towels protect against hypothermia if anyone has been in cold water too long. Check supplies before you leave the dock, and make sure you know how to use them.

Be cognizant of where children are sitting on the boat -- particularly motorboats. Don't let them sit on the bow while the boat is in motion. They can fall off with the turn of the wheel, surge of power, or the force of a large wave.

If so, they could hit their heads on the bottom of the boat, side of a dock, or even be run over by the boat.

Man Overboard!
If someone falls overboard, make sure at least one person keeps his eye on the victim at all times! Even a second of lost eye contact can mean life or death.

If you are alone, keep your eye on that person to the best of your ability while turning the boat around to pick them up.

When you pull the boat up alongside the fallen person, toss him a life ring or life jacket with a line attached to pull him in. This is a better tactic than offering your outstretched arm.

Should the victim be unable to swim or if she is unconscious, anyone with life guard training or the strongest swimmer or should enter the water. The victim might panic and grab onto the rescuer, which is why the person doing the rescuing should wear a life jacket.

Water Skiing
Make sure everyone knows how to swim before participating in water skiing.

Every skier should wear a ski vest specifically designed for water sports. Adjust it so that it fits properly.

Make sure the engine is off when the skier is getting in or out of the water next to the boat.

When throwing the tow line out of the boat, make sure it is coiled so that it will safely clear the engine.

The driver should be experienced. If you have not learned how to drive a fast boat, do not learn by towing skiers. Always designate someone as a spotter to keep an eye on the person being towed.

Nothing beats summer fun on the water. Respect the potential danger and do your best to follow logical and tried-and-true safety measures. You'll have the time of your life!