As the weather gets nicer, Minnesotans are getting more excited about spending some time in the sun. Swimming and boating are two popular warm-weather activities here in the Midwest. It makes sense, we have over 10,000 lakes! Whether your family heads to a cabin on weekends or visits the area’s swimming options, we want you to be safe in and around the water. Here’s some safety tips for you and your family:
Water/Pool Safety Tips:
Always watch your children or have a supervisor in charge.
Do not allow your kids to go to the pool or beach alone. Even if they can swim, they should still be watched while in or near water. It can take one second to lose track of them, especially at a busy pool or beach. Drowning is responsible for more deaths among children ages one to four than any other cause (except birth defects), so keep an eye on them!
Teach your children the appropriate rules when around water.
Look for posted rules and go over them when you arrive at the location. If you have time, look at the location’s website to see if they have their rules listed. If so, talk about the rules before you get there. It’s a good idea to talk about this each time you go to the location so that your children remember the rules. Teaching your kids to follow rules is a good lifeskill in general. Doing this shows your kids that it’s important to abide by them. They’re going to encounter rules a lot throughout their lives.
Have appropriate water gear and other items to bring.
Make sure to have the correct U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets for your children. Puddle Jumpers are commonly used for young kids. They also make them with head supports for smaller children. If you’re unsure if your device is approved, check the device itself, as it should be listed. If you are unsure, look on this website.
Don’t forget to pack snacks to eat and cold water to drink. It’s always a good idea to be hydrated while being outdoors. Not every beach or pool has a drinking fountain or concessions stand, so bring your own to be prepared.
Don’t play breath-holding games.
Playing games in which you’re holding your breath or seeing who can stay underwater the longest can have dangerous effects. A person can hyperventilate or pass out while underwater. Steer clear of these types of games. Instead, practice floating, blowing bubbles, or treading water. These kinds of activities can help a child get used to being in the water.
Wear a life jacket.
If you or someone else is not a good swimmer, wear a life jacket. Kids under age 13 are required by the U.S. Coast Guard to wear a life jacket when on a boat in motion. The boat owner is also required to have one life jacket onboard for each person who is riding the boat.
Alcohol impairs many bodily functions including coordination, judgment, and reaction time. Be mindful of how much you’re drinking when you are around water. Although it is legal for a boat driver to drink, they are required to abide by the blood-alcohol limit of .08%. If you’re unsure, just don’t drink. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Operate at a safe speed.
It’s important to drive your boat at a safe speed so that you can take proper actions or reduce speed if you are confronted with an instance that this is necessary. If you are riding on a boat and the driver is going too fast, speak up! It’s better to be comfortable when out on the water. If they aren’t cooperating with you, make sure to assess this before getting on their boat again.
Teach your child to swim in open water.
Swimming in open water is much different than swimming in a pool. Many other factors come into play, like depth, limited visibility, current, and undertow. Be sure to teach your kids about the difference and what to do when they find themselves in a situation they are unsure of.
Learn CPR and First Aid.
If you are a boating family or find yourself on open water often, it’d be beneficial to take a beginner’s course in CPR and First Aid. The Red Cross has several classes you can choose from.
Remember, staying safe is just as important as having fun. We hope you have an amazing summer season filled with splashing and smiles. Stay safe, Rochester!
Here are some resources from the Red Cross:
Here you’ll find videos, quizzes, and printable activity sheets for your kids.