Summer 2017 Recreational Water Safety Tips
Every day in the United States, the CDC reports ten people die from unintentional drowning. Of this number, two will be children aged 14 years 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. In statistics from the Alaska Kids Don’t Float program, the fatality rate in the state is 4 to 5 times higher than the national average. Over a recent ten-year period there were 454 drowning deaths in Alaska, 11% being children under the age of 15 and 42% boating-related.
With summer here, now is a good time to review safety tips and help prevent water-related injuries and drownings in Alaskan waters:
- Designate a responsible adult to supervise children when in or around any body of water. This includes water in seemingly small quantities such as buckets, baths, ponds, and streams.
- Children should wear a Personal Floatation Device (PFD) when in or around streams, rivers and any open body of water.
- Air-filled or foam toys such as “water wings,” “noodles,” or inner-tubes do not replace PFDs and are not designed to keep swimmers safe.
- Use a U.S. Coast Guard-approved PFD when in an open boat, on the deck of a boat, or when water skiing. All children under the age of 13 must be wearing a PFD. It is state and federal law.
- Use the buddy system when swimming.
- Learn to swim. Formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning in children, but doesn’t take the place of adult supervision.
- Avoid alcohol and other drugs that may cause drowsiness or inhibit safe behavior.
- Know the local weather conditions and forecast before swimming or boating.
- Know how to prevent recreational waterborne illnesses caused by germs spread by swallowing, breathing in, or having contact with contaminated water which can cause a wide range of illnesses and infections.
- Learn Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).
- In the case of a water-related injury or drowning, call 911 immediately and follow the instructions from the AFD Dispatcher prior to the arrival of emergency responders.
For further information on water safety, see the enclosed brochure from Alaska Kids Don’t Float or go to their website: www.kidsdontfloat.alaska.gov