Think Safety First on the Water

By Mary-Kathryn Craft

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With temperatures breaking the century mark across South Carolina this week, taking a dip in a cool lake, river, ocean or pool might be high on your list.

Before you and your family spend time in the water or on a boat this summer, put safety first. Drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional death worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. In South Carolina, accidental drowning is the third leading cause of death for children under 14.

Water safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Always supervise children around bodies of water.
  • It’s a good idea to appoint an adult to be the “water watcher” and take turns to give children in the water your undivided attention.
  • Enroll children and adults in swimming lessons.
  • Swim only in designated areas that are watched by a lifeguard.
  • Don’t swim alone even if an area is staffed with lifeguards. Always use the buddy system.
  • Do not dive into oceans, lakes or rivers. You never know how deep the water is or what might be below the surface.

When boating, follow these guidelines:

  • Always have children wear a life jacket that is U.S. Coast Guard-approved. Don’t rely on swimming aids like water wings or noodles. Learn more about life jackets from Safe Kids Worldwide.
  • Never drink alcohol.
  • Get a free safety check from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.
  • Develop basic rules for your boat and explain to passengers. Children should know to keep hands and feet inside the vessel and not to run on the boat.

Learn more about safe swimming from the American Red Cross and the Children’s Trust of South Carolina. Find more details on boating safety and life jackets here.

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