Life jackets and active supervision are essential to boating safety
05-16-2009 (Dayton, OH) -
Whether it's during vacation or part of an ordinary day, boating can be fun for the entire family - as long as everyone remains safe.
In 2005, 21 children ages 12 and under were killed in boating incidents.
Of the children who drowned while boating in 2003, more than 60 percent were not wearing life jackets even though the U.S. Coast Guard reports an estimated 85 percent of boating-related drownings could be prevented by the use of life jackets.
"On a boat, everyone should wear a life jacket at all times," says Jessica Saunders, injury prevention coordinator at The Children's Medical Center of Dayton and Safe Kids Greater Dayton coordinator. "Look for a life jacket approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. 'Water wings' and other inflatable swimming aids such as inner tubes do not prevent drowning."
Safe Kids Greater Dayton recommends that children ages 14 and younger wear life jackets not only on boats, but near open bodies of water or when participating in water sports. Ohio law requires children younger than 10 years of age to wear life jackets while boating, and children under 13 are required to wear life jackets on any recreational vessel in waters under Coast Guard jurisdiction.
Safe Kids Greater Dayton urges parents and caregivers to wear life jackets on boats or other watercraft as well. "Your children will pick up and embrace your safety habits," says Saunders According to a 2005 study by Safe Kids Worldwide, children are much more likely to practice safe habits when they witness similar behavior by parents and caregivers.
Dayton Children's and Safe Kids Greater Dayton remind parents and caregivers these important nine tips:
- Always wear life jackets when in or around open bodies of water and on boats. Make sure the life jacket fits snugly. Have the child make a "touchdown" signal — if the life jacket hits the child's chin or ears, the life jacket may be too big or the straps are too loose.
- Enroll your kids in swimming lessons taught by a certified instructor, but don't assume swimming lessons or life jackets make your child "drownproof." These precautions are important, but they're no substitute for constant and active adult supervision.
- Don't let kids operate or ride on personal watercraft (such as jet skis).
- Never drink alcoholic beverages while boating — a large portion of boating accidents that occur each year involve alcohol consumption by both boat operators and passengers
- Nobody should swim near a dock or marina with electrical hookups or lighting — swimmers can be electrocuted in the water and drown.
- Make sure the boat operator has passed a boating safety course approved by the Coast Guard before letting your child and your family ride in the boat. For more information about safe boat operations visit www.uscgboating.org.
- When there are several adults present and children are swimming, use the Water Watcher card strategy, which designates an adult as the Water Watcher for a designated amount of time (e.g. 15-minute periods) to prevent lapses in supervision. To download a Water Watcher card, visit http://www.usa.safekids.org/water/documents/WaterWatcher-English.pdf.
- Install a carbon monoxide detector on your motorboat to alert you to dangerous levels of exhaust fumes.
- Learn infant and child CPR. In less than two hours, you can learn effective interventions that can give a fighting chance to a child who has fallen into water and become unconscious. Local hospitals, fire departments and recreation departments offer CPR training.
National Safe Boating Week is an annual educational campaign, coordinated by the National Safe Boating Council (www.safeboatingcouncil.org), running the week prior to Memorial Day.
Stay connected to Dayton Children's and Safe Kids Greater Dayton on Facebook and Twitter. Follow @SKGreaterDayton and @DaytonChildrens.
About Safe Kids Greater Dayton
Safe Kids Greater Dayton works to prevent accidental childhood injury, the leading killer of children 14 and under. Safe Kids Greater Dayton is a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations dedicated to preventing accidental injury. Safe Kids Greater Dayton was founded in 1994 and is led by The Children's Medical Center of Dayton.
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