This weekend is the unofficial start of summer, so lots of people will be heading to all the wonderful lakes and rivers across Kansas. Safety on the waterways is just as important as on the roadways. So the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT), the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and Safe Kids Kansas are participating in National Safe Boating Week and have these tips:
· Wear a life jacket. Children age 12 or younger are required to wear a life jacket at all times when on board a boat, and KDWPT strongly recommends that adults do the same.
· Designate a “Water Watcher.” Regardless of a swimmer’s age or skill level, it’s smart for a responsible adult to keep watch when anyone is in the water.
· Learn CPR. Many local hospitals, fire departments, Red Cross offices and recreation departments offer training at little to no cost.
· Learn how to safely help someone in distress. All too often, the victim of a drowning has succumbed while trying to rescue someone else. Hurriedly jumping into the water without wearing a life jacket is a recipe for disaster.
· Adhere to a “no drinking” policy while boating. Boating under the influence is just as deadly as drinking and driving. Penalties can include large fines, suspension or revocation of boat operator privileges, and jail terms. To be safe, only consume alcohol when on land, and never before operating your boat.
· Allow only those who have completed boater education to operate the vessel. In Kansas, anyone age 12-20 must have completed an approved boater education course before operating a vessel without the direct supervision of an adult.
· Know the rules of the water. Knowledge of these rules can prevent dangerous, and even deadly, situations.
· Educate yourself and your children about swimming safely. Be aware of uneven surfaces, underwater trees and rocks, currents (yes, there are currents in Kansas reservoirs) and changing weather.
· Keep warm. A dip in the lake may be tempting on a hot day, but remember that the water temperature may be too cold for prolonged swims.
· Make sure your boat has all the required equipment and is thoroughly tested before hitting the water.
For more safe boating information, including a list of current boating regulations, visit www.ksoutdoors.com and click “Boating.”
For more information about child safety topics, visit the Safe Kids Kansas website at www.safekidskansas.org.