May 19, 2017, 10:45:00 AM CDT Mar 17, 2023, 8:07:42 PM CDT

Boat and lake safety for kids: 6 must-know rules

Learn ways to keep kids safe during a lake day

little girl in a life jacket riding on a boat little girl in a life jacket riding on a boat

With warm weather and summertime, many families will head to the lake to beat the heat and cool off. To keep you and your family safe, the experts from the Children's Health℠ Injury Prevention program offer these boating and lake safety rules for kids.

1. Enroll in a Boater Safety Course. Taking a boater safety course is required in Texas for anyone born on or after September 1, 1993. A boater safety course can make boat rides safer and more enjoyable for everyone onboard. Texas Parks and Wildlife provides answers to frequently asked questions about safely operating a boat.

2. Wear a U.S. Coast-Guard approved personal flotation device (PFD) at all times when boating or on a personal watercraft. A properly fitted life jacket is snug, yet comfortable, and will not move above the chin or ears when you lift it at the shoulders. And remember that kids do what their parents do. Set a good example and show them that safety is important to you.

Did you know 80% of people who drown in boating accidents weren't wearing a life jacket? Texas life jacket laws state all children under 13 are required to wear a life jacket on boats under 26 feet in length.

3. Do not drink alcohol while boating. Driving a boat under the influence of alcohol is illegal. Alcohol makes it difficult to drive safely, to see objects in the water and to supervise young children so they are safe. Don't take the risk; don't drink alcohol if you are driving a boat.

Did you know most boating accidents happen when the driver has been drinking? In Texas, a person arrested for Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) may go to jail for up to 180 days and charged up to $2,000 — Not to mention possibly having their motor vehicle driver's license suspended.

4. Practice active supervision as the best protection. Assign an adult Water Watcher to supervise kids in or around the water. A water watcher is totally focused on watching the water, and not socializing, texting, fishing, drinking, reading, etc. Touch supervision is essential for young children and those who are not strong swimmers.

5. Only swim in designated swimming areas. If you let your children swim in open water, it may be difficult for other boaters to see them. Also, make sure that you and your children don't dive into the lake because it's usually too dark to see just how far down the bottom really is.

6. Throw, don't go. If you see someone struggling in the water, find a flotation device to throw to them. Never jump in to save someone, because you could be pulled under, too.

Learn More

Learn more from experts at Children's Health about keeping your family safe and making summer smart.

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injury prevention, outdoor recreation, recreation, safety, summer, water sports

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