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UH Rainbow Babies and Childrens Hospital Offer Tips for Child Safety While Boating

Friday, May 24, 2013

Life Jackets and Active Supervision Are Essential To Keeping Kids Safe

Cleveland, OH — With Lake Erie in our backyard, Greater Cleveland families can make wonderful memories playing on the beach or taking a boat out on the lake for an afternoon ride. While being on a boat can be fun and relaxing, it can also be dangerous if important safety precautions are not followed. University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, lead agency for Safe Kids Greater Cleveland, urges parents and caregivers to take extra measures to keep kids safe while boating this summer.

“Research shows that about half of boating-related drownings could be prevented by the use of life jackets,” said Mandy Thomas, Coordinator of Safe Kids Greater Cleveland at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital. “Whether you’re on vacation or just spending a day out on the water, boating can be fun for the entire family, as long as everyone remains safe. We can’t stress it enough: on a boat, everyone should wear a life jacket at all times.”

Life jackets are not just for kids—parents and caregivers should always wear life jackets on boats or other watercraft too. “Remember that you’re a role model. Children are much more likely to practice safe habits when they see you following water safety rules,” said Thomas. “Plus, you’ll be better able to help your children in an accident if you have a life jacket to help keep you afloat and oriented in the water.”

UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital and Safe Kids Greater Cleveland also remind parents and caregivers:

  • Always supervise children when they are around any type of water. Designate a “Water Watcher”—a responsible adult who is in charge of watching children while they are in or near water. The Water Watcher should not be distracted by phone calls, text messages, reading or talking to others.
  • Make sure life jackets fit properly. Adults and children should wear life jackets in or around open bodies of water and on boats. Life jackets should fit snugly, be appropriate for a child’s size and weight, and be properly fastened. Quick Check: Put the life jacket on the child and have the child make a “touchdown” signal with arms raised. If the neck opening of the life jacket comes over the child’s chin or ears, it may be too big or the straps may be too loose. Adjust straps or try different jackets until you get the right fit.
  • Learn how to swim and only swim in designated swimming areas. Enroll children in swim lessons taught by certified instructors. Knowing how to swim does not prevent drowning, but it is an important skill for both children and adults to learn. Teach children that swimming in open water is not the same as swimming in a pool—they need to be aware of uneven surfaces, river currents, ocean undertow and changing weather. It is also difficult to know how deep the water is or what might be hidden under the surface of the water. Water wings and other inflatable swimming aids such as inner tubes do not prevent drowning.
  • Learn CPR and know how to use rescue equipment. These are important skills to know if there is an emergency, when every second counts.. In less than two hours, you can learn skills that could save a child’s life.

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