Tips to Make It Safe on the Water this Summer
There’s nothing more fun in the Summer than getting out and enjoying being around bodies of water! Most of us plan our vacations around the water, and rightfully so. I mean who doesn’t want an umbrella drink and a beach in our view? People are on boats, paddleboards, waverunners, jet-skis, out swimming, snorkeling, and so much more. But as much fun as it is, it can also be very dangerous and it’s important to make sure there’s also concerns around keeping things safe. Drowning deaths are a threat year round but certainly increase significantly with increased access to water. And while drowning is certainly a greater risk for young children, it is still the leading cause of death for people ages 5 to 24.
MAKE SURE THE KIDS KNOW HOW TO SWIM WELL ENOUGH
Swimming lessons for young children are incredibly important. When children learn to swim at a young age they will have less fear, and probably more respect for water as they grow. Most local YMCA’s offer swimming lessons at a reasonable cost and they are available year-round. However, lessons are not just for kids. If you are not a strong swimmer or have some fear of the water, consider enrolling in an adult swimming class to improve your swimming skills. It is possible that by becoming a stronger swimmer you may even be able to help another person who is in trouble in the water one day. When wading into the water, always remember to tread carefully watching out for currents and sudden drops.
PERSONAL FLOTATION DEVICES - USE ‘EM!
Whenever any person, child or adult is around the water, on a boat or some other water related craft, they should be wearing a life-jacket or personal floatation device (PFD). Most deaths related to boating are caused by drowning and could be avoided by wearing a PFD. It is important that you choose PFDs that fit properly and are not being adjusted to fit. They must be snug around the chest and shoulders. Women should be sure to wear PFDs that are specifically made to accommodate a bust and not choose a unisex model. Always check your vest for rips, tears and holes.
LAKES AND BEACHES HAVE RULES FOR A REASON
When boating, skiing or paddleboarding on a lake or off a beach it is important to follow the local rules. Adhere to speed limits, be sure to give other boats or jet skis plenty of room and be aware of the wake that you are creating. Also, just like with driving, your safety doesn’t just depend on your actions, the behavior of another boat operator can impact your safety. Be sure to be observant and ready to change course at the drop of a hat if someone is on course to collide with you. Same goes for tides, undertows, etc. at beaches, these are very important factors to know before you run into that ocean water!
AVOID OVERUSING ALCOHOL
We know, booze and the beach is quite a great combo. But, water and alcohol simply don’t mix, more so the overuse of alcohol that is. When you are out on the water you need to have your wits about you to remain safe. Whether you are operating a boat or jet ski, are being pulled behind one, or are simply surfing or paddling, being under heavy influence of alcohol or drugs can be a mistake you might not make it back from. Same rules apply on water that apply on roads.
MAKE SURE YOU AND YOUR BOAT KNOW EACH OTHER INTIMATELY
There are operating procedures that are important to know for every watercraft. before you set out on the water make sure you know exactly what you are doing. If you don’t feel 100% confident, look for a local class to take on basic boating safety. You can find a class near you here. Again, it’s not just your own safety on the water that matters, your passengers, the passengers on other boats, and the people in the water deserve your caution as well.
SUMMER HAS NASTY STORMS, TOO!
Being on the water in the Summer doesn’t mean it’s always sunny. Be sure to check the weather forecast before planning any trip out to the beach or on the water. Conditions can change quickly and you need to know what to expect. When it is sunny out you need to make sure you wear adequate protection, such as sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses. In addition, make sure you stay hydrated during hot sunny days. Too much sun on a long day can take a toll on our bodies.
FISH IN GOOD SPOTS
When fishing on a boat, the rules above apply. But here are a couple of other things to think about when fishing. Always bring along a first-aid kit with bandages, antiseptic, pain reliever, anti-inflammatory medication, and a bee-sting kit if you are allergic. Remember that hooks are very sharp and you want to avoid getting them stuck ANYWHERE let alone your hand. When you catch a fish, always grab it towards the end as it will wriggle and you may get jabbed with the hook. Before you make a cast, always make sure nobody is behind you.
The bottom line for every area of safety around the water is basic common sense. That and caution. Just as with any sport or activity, it’s always as safe as the person engaging in it. Remember, accidents do happen and at all times, remain calm and call 911.