Everybody loves to be out on the water, especially during the summer. Swimming and boating every weekend is what summer is all about. Water doesn’t have to be scary as long as you know some basic water and boating safety.
Water Safety for Families
Everyone needs to know how to swim.
It is dangerous for anyone to be a ‘weak’ swimmer. Anyone in your family, from six-months-old to eighty-year-old, needs to enroll in swimming lessons if they do not already know how to swim confidently. Being able to doggy paddle isn’t good enough! Call your local Red Cross chapter to register for swimming courses. Anyone who cannot swim must wear a life-jacket at all times.
Swimming supervision is a must.
Even if children are deemed proficient swimmers, they still need to be supervised around water. There should always be a designated adult watching young swimmers. Lastly, set firm rules for all swimmers based on ability.
It can be tempting to step inside for a moment, or even drop older kids off at the pool by themselves. But, that is not safe. Even leaving the oldest in charge is a bad idea, because children shouldn’t watch other children. Also, if there’s an injury or medical issue a child won’t know what to do.
Prevent unsupervised swimming.
It’s crucial that you teach your children to ask permission before going near water. They should be aware that water can be dangerous and that they should be cautious when swimming or playing near water whether it’s at home, the community pool, the beach or the lake.
If you have a home pool:
- Install barriers: enclose whole pool area, needs to be at least 4 ft.
- Safety gates need to be self-closing, self-latching and away from the pool.
- Get a pool alarm
- Use a pool cover
- For above ground pools, always remove the latter whenever the pool isn’t being used
- Keep the pool covered when it’s not in use
Boating Safety for Families
Enroll in Boating Education Course
Why wouldn’t you want to know everything about boating? Could you imagine getting your driver’s license without Drivers Ed? Texas Parks & Wildlife recommends that everyone in your family take a boater education course. Remember, knowledge is power!
Be extra careful with personal watercraft (tubes).
Who doesn’t love to shred on a tube being pulled by a boat? It’s super fun. But personal watercraft, like tubes or even wave runners, carry a heightened risk. To prevent injury, always stay 50 feet away from any other PWCs (tubes), vessels, persons, shore, platform or other objects unless you’re idling. Also, it is imperative (and legally enforced) that anyone operating a PWD must wear a Coast-Guard approved life jacket.
Always wear a life jacket.
While the Coast Guard only mandates that children 13 and younger wear life jackets while the boat is moving, it’s still prudent to wear them at all times. Most boating accident victims are recovered without a life jacket on. At the very least, you should have a life jacket onboard for everyone currently on the boat.
Boat at a safe speed.
There are no speed limits on the waterway, but the Coast Guard can still issue tickets for excessive speed or reckless operation. It’s important to reduce speed significantly in congested areas or when there is inclement weather.
What to Do In a Water Emergency
Before an emergency ever occurs, be prepared to respond. Take Red Cross courses in home pool safety, water safety, first aid and CPR/AED.
If a person is missing, check the water first. Second count when it comes to saving someone from drowning. Always call 9-1-1 in a water emergency. If you are on a boat during a crisis, use your VHF radio set to Channel 16 to send out a distress call. If someone falls overboard, activate the kill-switch to shut off the engine before radioing for help.