Spending time with family and friends at a river, lake, or marina is a favorite summer activity, whether it be on a boat, participating in water sports, or taking a walk along the dock. It is also important to keep safety precautions in mind while enjoying water activities and the warm weather, especially for children.
Actively supervising children in and around the water, using the appropriate safety devices, learning water safety skills, and knowing what to do in an emergency may prevent a boating-related drowning.
National Safe Boating Week is May 19-25 and Safe Kids Grand Forks wants to remind families to be safe by following these simple steps:
Follow these simple tips to stay safe on the waters:
Always supervise children when they are around any type of water. Designate a “Water Watcher” – a responsible adult who is in charge of watching children while they are in or near water. The Water Watcher should not be distracted by phone calls, text messages, reading or talking to others. Download your own Water Watcher Card now!
Make sure everyone always wears a life jacket. Life jackets should fit snugly and keep the child’s head above water. Make sure the life jacket is appropriate for the child’s size and weight, and is properly fastened. Quick Check: Put the life jacket on the child and have the child make a “touchdown” signal with arms raised. If the neck opening of the life jacket comes over the child’s chin or ears, it may be too big or the straps may be too loose.
Encourage everyone to learn how to swim. Enroll children in swim lessons taught by a certified instructor. Knowing how to swim does not prevent drowning, but it is an important skill for both children and adults to learn. To find a swim class near you, contact the Altru YMCA at 701-775-2586.
Only swim in designated swimming areas. Swimming in open water is not the same as swimming in a pool – Be aware of uneven surfaces, river currents, ocean undertow and changing weather. It is also difficult to know how deep the water is or what might be hidden under the surface of the water.
Learn CPR and know how to use rescue equipment – these are important skills to know if there is an emergency. To find a CPR class near you, contact your local American Red Cross or Altru Health System (www.altru.org)
Take a boating safety course. Make sure the boat operator has passed a boating safety course approved by the U.S. Coast Guard before your child or family rides in the boat. For more information about boating courses and free Vessel Safety Checks, visit www.uscgboating.org.
Do not let children operate or ride on personal watercrafts such as jet skis. These are intended for adults and require special training.
Prevent carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Know where and how CO may accumulate around your boat, and install a CO detector to alert you to dangerous levels of exhaust fumes.
Avoid alcoholic beverages. Never drink while boating — a large portion of boating accidents that occur each year involve alcohol consumption by both boat operators and passengers.
Safe Kids Grand Forks sells life jackets for a reduced price. Infant life jackets (under 30#) are $15 each and all others (30-50#, 50-90# and 90 and above) are $12 each. To purchase your life jacket or learn more about fitting them, contact us at email@example.com.
Altru Health System is proud to serve as the lead agency for Safe Kids Grand Forks. For more information on boating safety or other childhood injury risk areas, contact Safe Kids Grand Forks at firstname.lastname@example.org or 701-780-1489.