Summertime is great for getting involved in outdoor activities, specifically water sports like swimming, surfing, boating, kayaking, rafting and tubing. But just like with any sports, injuries are very possible, and it can be easy to forget about practicing safety when you’re in the middle of having fun.
According to a 2005 report from the CDC, there were 4,292 deaths reportedly caused by water sport accidents. But most water sports accidents can be avoided just by practicing simple safety measures and taking the proper precautions. Below are some useful water sports safety tips:
- Know how to swim! This is the most important rule when taking part in any water sport or activity. Knowing how to swim will naturally make you feel more comfortable and confident in the water. Swimming lessons can be equally beneficial for both children and adults. Having advanced swimming skills can help save your life, or the life of someone who may not know how to swim.
- Always take someone with you. Being out on the water alone is risky. It’s not unusual for people to go out by themselves to fish, or be out on a boat, but it’s a better and safer idea for you to go with a buddy. Plus, bringing along friends and family can make the activity even more enjoyable. Also, make sure you tell someone who is not going with you where you are going and how long you plan on being out—someone should always know where you are.
- Use a personal flotation device (PFD) or life jacket. According to PFDMA.org, nearly 85% of all boating-related drowning victims were not wearing life jackets. But wearing a jacket doesn’t automatically keep you safe. Properly using a PFD is just as important as wearing one. Make sure the PFD is the right size for the person wearing it. (They do come in children’s sizes, not just adult sizes.) A good test to see if a PFD is secured correctly is to raise your arms up and have someone attempt to slide it over your head. The PFD should barely move as they attempt to do this.
- Keep aware of your surroundings while in the water. This year shark attacks have been in the news frequently, but being aware of other things like weather, currents, water levels, as well as other people who may be doing other activities close by, is important to keep in mind to prevent injury to yourself or others. Remember, always get out of the water and seek shelter if there is thunder or lightning.
- Make smart decisions. Don’t ever participate in any water-related activity if you have been drinking alcohol or are with people who have been drinking. According to the US Coast Guard, in 2012, there were over 100 deaths and 200 injuries related to alcohol use while operating boats.
From all of us at Health Advocate, we hope you and your family have a fun, safe, and healthy summer!