There might not be anything better than spending the summer by the water, whether that be the lake, ocean or your backyard pool, nothing beats it. With the draw and fun of summer and water, many of us seem to forget the dangers that come along with entertainment and relaxation. Sadly, drownings happen every year and are a leading cause of death in children. Rather than avoiding water all summer long in an attempt to keep you and your family safe, it is important instead to take all appropriate precautions to ensure your safety and enjoyment.
It is completely understandable for children not to want to wear lifejackets. They can be bulky, uncomfortable, and embarrassing when there are older kids who are not forced to follow this rule. However, lifejackets can make a huge difference in situations of life or death. Children should always have lifejackets on when going for a boat ride. Ideally, everyone in the boat should have a Canadian Standards Association (CSA) certified lifejacket on. I will admit, I started foregoing the lifejacket rule when I was about 13. For adults and older children, by law, you need to have a lifejacket or PFD for every passenger on board and these should be accessible in case of emergency. When fitting children for lifejackets, they should fit rather snuggly and should not rise up into the child’s face when you lift it. Those that are ill fitting will not work properly when you need them to.
The rule in my house has always been to use the buddy system when in the water. No one in my family was allowed to go in the water without someone supervising – even my father. This may seem a touch dramatic, I certainly thought it was, now I see why it was enforced so unquestionably. Even the most experience swimmer is not indefensible to panic in dangerous situations. In a perfect world, the supervising individual should be CPR trained and know what to do in drowning scenarios. While this may not be possible in every situation, the supervisor should still be able to do something to help the potential drowning victim. Minimally, they should be able to jump in and bring the drowning individual to shore, then call for someone who is able to provide life-saving help. If the opportunity arises to take a CPR training course, I wouldn’t turn it down, it could be the difference between life and death and will better prepare you to help save a family member or friend if need be.
An ever-important reminder for the adult summertime waterfront residents and visitors is to keep “water on the water, beer on the pier.” Alcohol is just as dangerous on the water as it is on the road and carries the same legal repercussions. While the draw of a “booze cruise” is rather enticing it increases the risk level when you add an element which has the potential to decrease the decision-making and physical capacities of partakers. Even if the captain of your boat is not drinking, passengers could easily interfere with and distract the driver, or worst case, fall overboard and suffer from potentially serious and life-threatening injuries. A beer, cocktail or glass of wine may seem like the perfect addition to your summer day on the water, but it is not worth the potential repercussions. If you’re on or around the water, stick with water; safety first so you can have more fun later!
Keeping yourself, your family and friends safe this summer is easier than it seems. Remember the tips you’ve read today but also your common sense. Many accidents are avoidable as long as we practice safety and stay aware of our surroundings. It was a long, cold winter; so get out there and enjoy the water, do deserve it!