Gear up for summer water safety

Gear up for summer water safety

By: HIPRC Date: May 9th, 2018

Life jackets help keep the water fun and safe all summer long for every age, giving you and your family confidence around the water.

According to Seattle Children’s Hospital, children under 5 years old should always wear a life jacket, life vest or other personal flotation device in or near water, and children ages 6 to 11 should wear them on docks or riverbanks. Everyone, including older children, teens and adults, should wear life jackets any time they are on open water, such as lakes, rivers or the ocean – even if they know how to swim.

For a low-cost option, Big 5 Sporting Goods stores in Washington and norther Idaho are offering a coupon for 25 percent off life jackets through September 30 – download directly from Seattle Children’s Drowning Prevention website. Seattle Children’s Hospital also maintains drowning prevention resources, including low-cost life jacket options and other water safety information.

For boaters, experts encourage everyone on board to wear a life jacket, as there may not be time to grab one in an emergency. Washington state law required that children age 12 and under must wear a life jacket while on a vessel less than 19 feet long.

It’s important to select flotation devices that have been approved by the U.S. Coast Guard, checked for damage and that fitted properly.

To test life jacket fit:

  1. Check the label for whether you match the recommended size and weight.
  2. Put on the life jacket, fastening all straps.
  3. Hold your arms straight over your head and have another person pull up on the tops of the arm openings.
  4. If this does not create excessive space above the arms and does not pull the jacket up over your chin or face, the life jacket fits properly.

Drowning deaths can and do occur in calm water, among people who were not expecting to get in the water and among people attempting to rescue someone else, emphasizing the need for everyone to wear personal flotation devices when out on the water.