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How to Have a Safe Day at the Lake with Kids

May 08, 2019 5 min read 2 Comments

How to Have a Safe Day at the Lake with Kids

Guest Contributor: Stephanie Cutler of Lake Country Family Fun

Lake Country Family Fun (LCFF) is an online business focused on being Southeastern Wisconsin’s one-stop resource for local family fun. LCFF loves connecting families to their communities, simplifying finding fun activities for families and visitors, providing parenting tips and resources and helping local businesses communicate their offerings to their community. Their website is https://lakecountryfamilyfun.com/

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Summer is a great season for families in Southeastern Wisconsin. There is so much to do! LCFF, in conjunction with Lake Effect Co., is excited for our “Jumping into Summer” promotion with an awesome giveaway. You can find the details here.

The promotion highlights ALL of the summer GUIDES that LCFF offers and it highlights the awesome local businesses participating. For summer time, you can findwater-related guides such as the Guide to the Lakes of Lake Country, 12 Local Beaches,Cool off at the Pool, and Waukesha County Parks guide.

Lake Country boasts many lakes – there are over 140 in Waukesha County.  It is a rich blessing to have access to these beautiful lakes to kayak, fish, boat, swim and more; however, we must respect the dangers that the water presents.  While LCFF is committed to fun, we are also committed to safety. Therefore, we have provided a list of tips for having SAFE fun around the water this summer.

(or around any other type of body of water)

According to the CDC, “Every day, about ten people die from unintentional drowning. Of these, two will be children aged 14 or younger. Drowning is the fifth leading cause of unintentional injury death for people of all ages, and the second leading cause of injury death for children ages 1 to 14 years.” The risks vary with each age group and water activity type. Safety practices should be employed for all ages and water activities. Drownings can happen fast.According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), “A child can drown in the time it takes to answer a phone. More than 3 out of 4 of the victims (77%) had been missing from sight for 5 minutes or less.”

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Read 6 safety tips below:

  • Life Jackets Always on Always
  • On a boat, federal law requires children under the age of 13 to wear a USCG-approved life jacket while underway in an open vessel. Adults should wear them as well on boats for safety. Make sure that life jackets are first of allapproved by the US Coast Guard and secondlycorrectly fitted for their height and weight. It is important to make the distinction between a water “toy” and life-saving device. Life jackets do not take the place of supervision.

  • Have your Kids Take Swim Lessons as Early as One
  • In 2019, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated their recommendations on water safety. Linda Quan, MD, FAAP, a co-author of the policy statement explained, “Research has found that swim lessons are beneficial for children starting around age 1 and may lower drowning rates”. You can talk with your Pediatrician on water safety.

    You can find a list of local swimming lesson options in LCFF’s Lessons Guide.

  • Supervision is Key – Water Watchers, Boat Operators and Spotters
  • It is important to have one person as the designatedWater Watcher around water.  The Water Watcher role should be communicated clearly to avoid the confusion of “I thought you were watching them.” Also, another role that is important is that of the boat operator.Boat Operators should employ safety precautions and take their role as operator seriously. It is crucial to avoid alcohol andother distractions while supervising children and operating watercraft. When kids are in or around the water, the number one priority is supervision.   It is very easy to get “lost in social media” or a conversation for a long enough time for an accident to occur. I personally don’t make playdates around water with others often because I’m not able to communicate with others as much because my focus is watching the kids. On a personal watercraft, designate a competentSpotter (not the operator) to watch person(s) being towed for water sports.

  • Alcohol and Water Do not Mix
  • Wisconsin law prohibits anyone from operating a motorboat or manipulating water skis or similar devices while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Alcohol and drugs cause impaired balance, blurred vision, poor coordination, impaired judgment, and slower reaction times. Alcohol plays a role in about 70% of drowning deaths involving teens and adults, the CDC says. According to Alcohol.org, “the legal limit for drinking and driving is a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% g/dL, and the same is true for operating a boat. This applies to any boat, including a canoe, kayak, or rowboat. Operating a boat under the influence of alcohol is a federal offense.” 

  • Communicate Water Safety to Children (of all ages)
  • Set expectations with kids of all ages although the conversation will look different for different ages. Make water safety a real, factual conversation, but avoid building up too much fear.  You can print out water-safety activity sheets or make the safety tips into a little test. When talking with kids, the following types of conversations could take place:

    • “Remember to always ask permission before you go in or near water. Never swim without an adult.”
    • “Here is how you properly wear your life jacket.”
    • “You are going with Jim’s family on their boat today. Be sure to wear this life vest at all times and be sure to stay near his parents.” (older kid)
    • “It’s okay if you are not comfortable in the water, would you like to look into swimming lessons?”
    • “Make sure you have a buddy system in place for swimming. Look out for each other.” (older kids)
    • “Some kids may want to do holding breath contests, but please do not engage in this game as it can cause you to drown. You can work on swimming and breathing with your swim team.”
    • “Do not drink and swim.” (older kids)
    • “Never dive unless you know how deep it is.”

  • Be Prepared In Case of an Accident
  • It is important to remember that children do not always call out for help when drowning or in distress.  A lot of children drown silently. That is why it is important to watch for signs of drowning and keep a close eye on them while in the water. In case of an accident it’s important to call 911 and administer CPR.  Brushing up on CPR skills is a great tip!

    These tips may seem common sense but refreshing yourself and your children on them is a great practice. May is designated as National Water Safety Month, so now is a great time to start those conversations! Have a fun and SAFE Summer out on the Lake, enjoying the beautiful creation and warm weather!

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    2 Responses

    Eve Mitchell
    Eve Mitchell

    June 07, 2021

    I love your tips about having a factual conversation with kids about lake safety. my husband and I want to move our family to a lakeside property to teach my kids to love the outdoors. I would like to find a realtor that can find us this property, as well, and help me teach my kids how to be safe on the water. https://www.lakesidneylanierhomes.com/

    Gerianne Dally
    Gerianne Dally

    May 27, 2019

    Excellent advice! Should have it posted at all pools, lakes & rivers.

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