Drownings are the 2nd leading cause of death, nationwide, for children 14 years old and younger. The rate for drowning in open water at age 15 triples. Teens are often unaware of risky behavior and often have no fear.
Open water safety tips
Know the water conditions.
- Open water safety plans should always include an adult Water Watcher around the water.
- Water conditions in lakes and oceans can vary on a daily basis. From clear to murky and calm to rough waters, it’s important to know the condition of the water before getting in.
Have a safety plan in place.
- If an emergency does happen, remember, seconds count. Call 911 immediately and then begin CPR while EMS is in route.
- Whether it’s your boat and/or lake house or a friends, make sure there is a safety plan in place before your child gets anywhere near the water. We recommend a “toe in/vest on” policy, in or out of the boat. If a toe is in the water, a life jacket goes on.
Avoid risky behavior.
- The rate for drowning in open water at age 15 triples. Teens are often unaware of risky behavior and frequently have no fear.
Wear life vests with U.S. Coast Guard-approved labels.
- The single most important thing when it comes to open water safety is a life vest. Especially in murky water with a current, it can be the difference between life and death. If the lifejacket doesn’t say “US Coast Guard Approved” or “USCG approved,” you can assume it’s not safe. Always check the label.
- U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) approved life jackets go through strict regulations to be designated as a life saving device. Life jackets are key in keeping the head above the water in order to breathe. Always check the labels for the correct size and for the USCG approval number.
- Most drowning fatalities in natural water are non-boating related. While it is Important to wear a life jacket in the boat, wearing one in the water is even more important.
Insist on adult, non-distracted Water Watchers.
- Children drown silently, so designate a Water Watcher to watch children and teens, if possible, in and around all water.
- A Water Watcher tag can be used to designate responsible adults to watch the water when you have a party at the pool, lake or beach.
- Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to request your Water Watcher tag.
- Download a Water Watcher sign-up sheet
Take family CPR lessons.
- Learning CPR can be the difference between life and death while waiting for emergency personnel to arrive
- Check your local Red Cross and YMCA for classes.
Schedule water safety and swim lessons.
- Drownings and near drownings are 8 times more likely to happen to children that don’t know how to swim or are being supervised by adults that don’t know how to swim.
- Learning how to swim and practicing proper water safety techniques are crucial but children that know how to swim are still at risk.
- Need help finding swim lessons? Check out this list of providers in the Tarrant County area. If you’re not in Tarrant County, you may want to contact your local YMCA, Red Cross, or parks and recreation center for information in your area.
Help us promote open water safety
We’ve put together the below social media kit for easy sharing among your friends and family. It takes a village and together, we can help prevent another child from drowning.
Please feel free to use our messaging or create your own. To use our messaging, all you have to do is copy the messages we’ve provided below and insert the appropriate photo into whichever social media site you prefer to use. We do ask that you keep #LifeguardYourChild in the message.
Whether it’s on your boat and/or lake house or a friends, make sure there is a safety plan in place before your child gets anywhere near the water. #lifeguardyourchild
Most fatal drownings in natural water are non-boating related. While it’s important to wear a life vest in the boat, wearing one in and around the water is even more important. #lifeguardyourchild
From clear to murky and calm to rough, it’s important to know the condition of the water before getting in. #lifeguardyourchild
Open water drowning rates triple for teens when they turn 15, as they are more likely to take risks. #lifeguardyourchild
Take your first step
Here is a list of swim lesson providers we have the privilege of working with. We’ve also included a Water Watcher sign-up sheet to make sure there is always one adult that is not going to be distracted by conversations, cell phones, reading, etc… while children are swimming.
The Safe Kids North Texas – Fort Worth coalition is made up of community partners in over 8 counties surrounding and including Tarrant County, Texas. Our partners are our greatest safety advocates in each of these areas. If you are a swim lesson provider and would like to join our coalition, please reach out to us at Safe.Kids@cookchildrens.org.
Get involved and help us save lives
Want to know how you can get involved or create an awareness campaign in your community? Contact Dana Walraven, Safe Kids Tarrant County coordinator.