To help keep you and your family safe, the experts from the Children’s Health℠ Injury Prevention program offer up these boating and lake safety tips.
1. Enroll in a Boater Safety Course . Texas law states you must be at least 16 years old to drive a motor-powered boat. Do not allow teens under 16 to drive watercraft without adult supervision.
2. When boating or on a personal watercraft, wear a Coast Guard approved Personal Flotation Device (PFD, life jacket) at all times. 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? In Texas, all children under 13 are required by law to wear a life jacket on boats under 26 feet in length.
3. Stay away from 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.
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 driver’s license suspended.
4. Remember, active supervision is the best protection. Assign an adult “water watcher” to supervise the kids in or around the water at all times. 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 the 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 or use a pole or a tree branch that they can grab. Never jump in to save someone, because you could be pulled under, too.
For more information about water safety, contact the Children’s Health Injury Prevention program at (214) 456-1870.
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