Water is everywhere in the Inland Northwest. Lakes and rivers are some of the area’s most popular destinations and best features and many residents take to boating, swimming and other water sports as soon as the sun comes out. Even though the weather is slowly changing, there is still plenty of time to get outside and enjoy the sunshine and local lakes and rivers.
“Drowning is the second leading cause of injury-related death for children ages 1 to 14,” Donna Kalanick , Kootenai Health injury prevention coordinator, said. “Prevention starts with educating parents and children about water safety and awareness.”
Here are some of Donna’s top safety tips from Safe Kids:
- Children should always wear a life jacket approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. Make sure the life jacket fits snugly. Safe Kids suggests having the child make a “touchdown” signal by raising both arms straight up. If the life jacket hits the child’s chin or ears, it may be too big or the straps may be too loose.
- A large portion of boating accidents involve alcohol consumption by both boat operators and passengers. To keep you and your loved ones safe, it is strongly recommended not to drink alcoholic beverages while boating.
- Infants and young kids are at a higher risk for hypothermia, so if you are taking a baby on a boat, just take a few extra precautions to keep your baby warm. If your children seem cold or are shivering, wrap them tightly in a dry blanket or towel.
- Learning CPR will give you tremendous peace of mind – and the more peace of mind you have as a parent, the better. Local hospitals, fire departments and recreation departments offer CPR training.
- Teach children they need to be aware of uneven surfaces, river currents, ocean undertow and changing weather. It’s not the same as swimming in a pool.
- As summer temperatures hit, children are much more prone to dehydration than adults. Encourage children to take frequent water breaks and remember dehydration can quickly sneak up on a young child who is intently playing in and around water.
- Teach children to stay away from water unless accompanied by an adult.
- Enroll your child in swim lessons. This may one day save their life.
If you are interested in learning more about water safety or how you can volunteer with Safe Kids, contact Donna Kalanick at (208) 620-5843 and follow Safe Kids Kootenai County on Facebook for news and events. For more information about the national organization visit safekids.org.