As the hottest months of the year kick off, Georgians will be swarming to the lakes to cool down and enjoy the beautiful lake country. If you are planning on taking your boat out to the lake areas this season, boater knowledge and education is a must to keeping you and your children safe. Children”s Healthcare of Atlanta provides some safety tips to ensure your family outing will be smooth sailing.
GET BOATING EDUCATION. Starting July 1st of this year, all boat operators born after January 1st, 1998 are required to take a boater”s education class. The classes can be completed online, in a classroom or through a home study program. Get more information on boating education classes at www.gadrrle.org/node/33.
STAY SOBER. Boating under the influence is the leading cause of accidents on the water. Keeping the alcohol on shore is the best way to ensure everyone stays safe and aware of children”s whereabouts.
PREPARE FOR WEATHER. With Georgia”s unpredictable weather, it is necessary to plan ahead and check for possible storms during the day and be ready for the dark with nighttime running lights on the boat. Free vessel safety checks to keep your boat up to par can be administered through the US Coast Guard Auxiliary or US Power Squadrons. Visit www.uscboating.org for more information.
BE READY FOR EMERGENCIES. Learn infant and child CPR and always keep a phone on hand. Taking boating education classes can educate you about boating safety practices.
KEEP LIFEJACKETS AVAILABLE. All passengers of the boat should be fitted and assigned a lifejacket, and they should be stored in a place that can be accessed easily and quickly. All children under the age of 13 need to wear a lifejacket while underway in the boat. Teaching children to swim is an added cautionary step to prevent drowning.
ACTIVELY SUPERVISE. Provide undivided attention and constant supervision when children are around large bodies of water. Rotating a designated “water watcher” among the adults can ensure children are always being accounted for.
EDUCATE ABOUT SAFE DIVING AND SWIMMING. Teach children that diving into lakes and rivers can be dangerous because there is no telling what is just underneath the surface. No one should dive into water less than nine feet deep. Designated safe swimming areas should be addressed- talk about river currents, uneven surfaces, undertow and changing weather.