It is the start of a new outdoor season, and we have to make sure we play safe. I remember listening to a TV report of two college-age students from a local family who were good swimmers but died on a rafting trip. They weren’t wearing life jackets. I turned and looked at my two children and made reference to why we wear life jackets when we’re on the water even though they’re both good swimmers too.
With that in mind, here are a few water safety tips for spring to make it a great and safe season.
Lifeguard Certification Classes:
If you have a family member who is looking to be a lifeguard this summer, the training programs take a couple of weeks. Since pools usually open the end of May, Memorial Day Weekend now is a great time to plan ahead.
My wife and I are both certified lifeguards and Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) certified because we have a pool at our home. If you have a pool on your property, you should consider becoming a lifeguard. The training will be invaluable in the event of an emergency, and I hope you never need to use it.
Lifeguard certification classes are available through Coach Kami Gardner at Washington & Lee University. Email Coach Kami Gardner for more information.
You can also ask around to your local public pools, lakes, ponds, or beaches to see if they have any lifeguard instructors.
Boating Safety Tips:
Do a full check of all your boating equipment at the beginning of the season to make sure it is in safe operating condition.
1. Check Your Life Jacket:
You can’t walk on water, but you can float in it. Always check your personal floatation devices at beginning of every season to make sure the downtime hasn’t created dry-rot in the material. Make sure no bugs, ants, etc. have gotten into them and damaged the material. Also, check the buckles to make sure they clasp correctly and can withstand a good tug. Wearing your life jacket on the water only helps if it’s working properly.
2. Check Your Oars, Ropes, and Flags:
Make sure you have all the pieces and parts you need, such as your oars, ropes, anchor, and flag for distress. Inspect your ropes at the beginning of the season, checking for [damage to the material?]. I used to take the ropes off my boat to store in a dry place during the winter. If you do that too, make sure the right ropes go back in the right places. You may also need an extra long rope for pulling the boat into the dock or onto the shore.
3. Do an Engine Tune-Up:
Engine tune-ups are always important. If doing this yourself especially check your wires and see if you need new spark plugs. And let’s not forget the drain plug.
If you’re going to be on a larger body of water, or have a larger vessel, getting a Coast Guard Vessel Safety Check at the beginning of the season is always a good idea.
Canoeing, Kayaking, & Tubing Safety:
The same type of equipment inspection in the spring applies to canoes, kayaks, and tubes. In addition to inspecting your life jacket, look for any cracks in your paddles. Also, a helmet is always a good idea for kayaking safety. There’s not much between you and water and rocks, and wearing a life jacket is a MUST for all water sports activity.
Use these water safety tips to make it a great and safe season. Let’s get out and have some fun!