Summertime and Water Recreation – Tips for Staying Safe
Louisiana offers Lakes, bayous, rivers, and ponds for summertime fun – pools are not always the only place to swim in the summer. Water areas are great for recreational opportunities. However, they can be dangerous for those that do not know how to swim or are not current with boating laws and state practices.
Depending on the type of water activity and the age of the person, there are different safety tips everyone should keep in mind when hitting the waterways this summer. Applying sunscreen and bringing the coolers are not the only concerns when out on the water. The top risks for drowning are lack of a lifeguard, no barriers marking deep waters, and not knowing how to properly swim (not wearing a life-saving device).
Safety Tips for Boaters
Boating is always a fun summertime activity, but it is important to practice all safety measures when operating a boat. The top priority is everyone’s safety. The best way to ensure this is to have life jackets on board for every passenger. Additionally, drivers should never operate a boat while consuming alcohol.
Not all boaters are experienced boaters. Luckily, each state offers boating safety courses to educate and prepare drivers with the necessary laws and boating requirements in Louisiana.
The best tip for all boaters is to prepare a checklist before deporting the shores. The checklist should include that all necessary state registration documentation is on board, proper navigational tools are being used, lifejackets and lifesaving floatation devices, and distress signals such as flares or airhorns. Additionally, all boats should have proper lighting, a compass, marine radio, and flashlights.
Once the boat is prepared, and all safety precautions have been followed, boaters can take to the waters.
Safety Tips for Adults
One of the top concerns for adults in the summertime is heat exhaustion and dehydration. Over 700 Americans every year pass away in the United States from excessive heat, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). By following a few safety precautions and paying attention to your body while working or playing out in the summer heat, heat-related deaths can be avoided.
- Do not go outside when heat indexes are high, and if going outside, do not stay out for long and use pools or cooling mechanisms.
- Avoid heavy clothing and try to wear lighter, loose clothes.
- Stay hydrated and continue to drink water throughout the day.
Additionally, never leave pets or children in a car for any amount of time without air conditioning. A cracked window does not do much in excessive heat.
Going to the pool or a lake is a great way to cool down when the heat is unbearable. However, practicing safety measures is always key to having a good time. Always bring safety vests for children and adults who do not know how to swim. If at a beach, only swim in designated areas and never leave someone in the water alone.
Finally, take a course in CPR and a basic water rescue class to be fully prepared this summer. Knowing CPR and basic lifesaving skills can be the difference between life or death.
Safety Tips for Kids
One of the highest drowning rates in the nation is in Louisiana. Drowning is the second most common cause of unintentional death in children ages one to fourteen, according to the CDC. Since children do not typically cry or flail around when drowning, it is often silent and goes unnoticed.
The greatest approach to guarantee a child’s safety while they are swimming in any type of water is to watch them closely at all times. Use the “touch supervision” principle when kids are in the water, which states that kids should always be within arms’ reach of an adult. No matter how many lessons a child has taken, it is never a good idea to think that they will not drown. Though, it is always a good idea to enroll a child in swim lessons.
Another big concern for children in the summer is sunburns and bug bites. Start with thin, light-colored clothing that covers as much of the body as possible to shield a child’s skin from harsh sun rays, and combine it with a wide-brimmed or sun hat. Sunscreen should be applied to dry skin every two hours.
Additionally, keeping children safe from mosquitoes is crucial. Louisiana has larger-than-average mosquitoes that can transmit disease and infection. There were 5 fatalities and 111 confirmed cases of West Nile Virus in Louisiana last year, according to the Center for Disease Control. Use a mosquito repellent on children two months and older that includes DEET of less than 30% to protect them from bites.
Louisiana Boating Laws
Louisiana requires certain boating courses for those that want to operate a watercraft with more than ten horsepower and are under the age of 38. Though, if there is someone on board who is 18 or older and has successfully passed an approved course, then another person may operate the boat.
When using a motorboat or personal watercraft, people must have their certificate of course completion with them at all times. There is one exception; captains with U.S. Coast Guard licenses are exempt from taking this course.
To operate a personal watercraft, the driver must be at least 16 years old. Knowingly allowing a minor under the age of 16 to operate a personal watercraft is against the law for anyone who owns or is in control of a motorized boat. Additionally, renting a personal watercraft to a person under the age of 16 is prohibited by law.
A person who owns or is in charge of a boat is also prohibited from giving permission or knowingly allowing someone who is inebriated or under the influence of marijuana, narcotics, or barbiturates to operate the watercraft. It is against the law for anyone who controls or possesses a watercraft to knowingly allow someone whose bodily or mental condition renders them unable to operate a watercraft under the existing conditions.