May 18, 2016 Post By: Children's Health

Boating and Lake Safety: 6 Must-Know Rules When You’re On the Water
With warmer weather and summertime holidays on the way, many families will head to the lake to beat the heat and cool off.

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 mandates you must be 16 years of age or older to operate a motor-powered boat. Do not allow teens under 16 to operate jet-skis or other water craft 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 PFD is snug, yet comfortable, and will not slip above the chin or ears when lifted at the shoulders. And remember that kids mimic their parents, so set a good example and so 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 personal floatation device (PFD) on boats under 26 feet in length.

3. Stay away from alcohol while boating. Not only is operating a boat while under the influence illegal, alcohol also impairs your ability to navigate, to identify obstacles in the water and to supervise your young passengers to ensure they are safe.

Did you know? Most boating accidents happen when the operator is impaired. In Texas, a person arrested for Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) may be jailed 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, and make sure that person is totally focused on watching the water, not socializing, texting, fishing, drinking, reading, etc.

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, instead of swimming out to help them, find a flotation device to throw to them or extend a pole or a tree branch that they can grab. Never jump in to save someone, because you could be pulled under, too. You can learn more tips about how to be safe around the lake at Know Before You Go.

For more information about water safety, contact the Children’s Health Injury Prevention program at (214) 456-1870 or visit Know Before You Go.