23 tips for a safe time while boating, swimming

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FISHERS, Ind. — The Fishers Police Department and Fire Department want to remind people about boat and water safety after two incidents over Memorial Day weekend on Geist Reservoir.

One of the incidents was a small boat that capsized after a bigger boat went by and created a wake.  The other incident involved a boat that sank after hitting an object in the water.

U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that drowning was the reported cause of death in four out of every five recreational boating fatalities in 2018, and that 84 percent of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets.

Whenever people head out on the water, the National Safe Boating Council offers these nine tips to keep in mind:

  • Wear a life jacket. Make sure everyone is wearing a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket. New innovative styles provide mobility and flexibility during water activities.
  • Check equipment. Make sure you have and know how to use all the essential equipment.
  • Make a float plan. Let family and friends know where you’re going and when you will return.
  • Use an engine cutoff device. An engine cutoff device is a proven safety device to stop the boat’s engine should the operator unexpectedly fall overboard.
  • Watch the weather. Always check the forecast before departing on the water and frequently during your excursion.
  • Know what’s going on around you at all times. Nearly a quarter of all reported boating accidents in 2018 were caused by operator inattention or improper lookout.
  • Know where you’re going and travel at safe speeds. Familiarize yourself with local boating speed zones and always travel at a safe speed.
  • Never boat under the influence. A BUI is involved in one-third of all recreational boating fatalities.
  • Keep in touch. Cell phones, satellite phones, EPIRB or personal locator beacon, and VHF radios can all be important devices in an emergency.

The CDC says 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 American Red Cross offers these tips that people should be aware of before heading out to the pool or beach:

  • Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
  • Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone.
  • Never leave a young child unattended near water and do not trust a child’s life to another child; teach children to always ask permission to go near water.
  • Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone.
  • Maintain constant supervision.
  • Make sure everyone in your family learns to swim well. Enroll in age-appropriate Red Cross water orientation and learn-to-swim courses.
  • If you have a pool, secure it with appropriate barriers. Many children who drown in home pools were out of sight for less than five minutes and in the care of one or both parents at the time.
  • Avoid distractions when supervising children around water.
  • If a child is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.
  • Have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit.
  • Know how and when to call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
  • Protect your skin. Limit the amount of direct sunlight you receive between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. and wear sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 15.
  • Drink plenty of water regularly, even if you’re not thirsty. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine in them.
  • Enroll in Red Cross home pool safetywater safetyfirst aid and CPR/AED courses to learn how to prevent and respond to emergencies.

Safety experts are also reminding people that there is a new hazard this summer, the coronavirus.

We’ve gotta watch our social distancing. If it’s family members that you’re living with day in and day out, that’s one thing. But if you’re out on the boat with friends and neighbors, then keep that six-foot distance. Wear a mask. 

Capt. John Mehling, Public Information Officer, Fishers Fire Department

They do not recommend wearing your mask in the water, but you still want to keep that physical distance while you’re swimming.

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