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Summer Water Safety

H2O SMARTZ

What do surfing, fishing, water skiing, and swimming have in common? They are all lots of fun...and they all take place in, on, or around the water! Water activities are a great way to stay cool and have a good time with your friends or your family. Take along these tips — and your common sense — to get wet, make waves, and have a blast!

 

Top Ten Tips

  • DO learn to swim. If you like to have a good time doing water activities, being a strong swimmer is a must.
  • DO take a friend along. Even though you may be a good swimmer, you never know when you may need help. Having friends around is safer and just more fun!
  • DO know your limits. Watch out for the "too's" — too tired, too cold, too far from safety, too much sun, too much hard activity.
  • DO swim in supervised (watched) areas only, and follow all signs and warnings.
  • DO wear a life jacket when boating, jet skiing, water skiing, rafting, or fishing.
  • DO stay alert to currents. They can change quickly! If you get caught in a strong current, don't fight it. Swim parallel to the shore until you have passed through it. Near piers, jetties (lines of big rocks), small dams, and docks, the current gets unpredictable and could knock you around. If you find it hard to move around, head to shore. Learn to recognize and watch for dangerous waves and signs of rip currents — water that is a weird color, really choppy, foamy, or filled with pieces of stuff.
  • DO keep an eye on the weather. If you spot bad weather (dark clouds, lighting), pack up and take the fun inside.
  • DON'T mess around in the water. Pushing or dunking your friends can get easily out of hand.
  • DON'T dive into shallow water. If you don't know how deep the water is, don't dive.
  • DON'T float where you can't swim. Keep checking to see if the water is too deep, or if you are too far away from the shore or the poolside.

Water Wisdom:

 

Icy
If the water's cold, a wetsuit can be your best friend. Wearing it will make you feel more comfortable, and you'll keep your body temp from dropping to the danger zone.

Floaters vs. PFDs (Personal Floatation Devices)
Q: Can blow-up objects such as rafts work like life preservers?
A: Nope. Although they float, they won't do the trick.

Did You Know?
Water covers 80 percent of the Earth!

Lifeline
If you see someone struggling in the water, go get help. You can also throw out a life preserver or other object that floats, BUT DO NOT JUMP IN YOURSELF! If you jump in without anyone else around, who will help save YOU if there is a problem?

Watch Out for Mother Nature...

Even if you are an Xpert, things that you can't control can get you into trouble.

Look out for signs warning you that the water is not clean, because polluted water could make you sick. (And even if it is clean, try not to swallow it. Yuck!)

It's also smart to keep clear of objects in the water like water plants and animals. They can cause problems for you so, if you see them — go the other way. (You've heard about what jellyfish and snapping turtles can do, right?)

Finally, if you're outside, you need to guard against the sun. Those burning rays reflect off the water and sand onto you...and they can really spoil the fun! So, rub on some sunscreen to get sun proof.

The Deal on Water Parks

If you've ever been to a water park, you know that they are s-o-o much fun! Read these “need-to-knows” for having a great time on ride after ride.

Read all the signs before going on a ride. Make sure you are tall enough and old enough. Ask questions if you are not sure about how you're supposed to go on the ride. (On most water slides, you should go down face up, arms crossed behind your head, and feet first with your ankles crossed.)

When you go from ride to ride, don't run. It's slippery!

Bumping into others on a slide can hurt. That's why no "chains" of people are allowed on water rides. So, count five seconds after the rider ahead of you has gone before you take your turn.

Wear a life preserver — the park supplies it for a reason.

 

The Deal on Boating and Jet Skiing

Skimming over the water is a great ride. You probably aren't driving a boat or jet ski yourself just yet, but they are lots of fun to ride with an adult! (Remember, they like to have fun too!) You and your parents can check the state rules for how old you have to be, and cruise through this boating site.

Stay alert! When you're riding, keep a lookout for other boats, jet skiers, water skiers, divers, and swimmers. Who has the right-of-way? Generally, drivers should keep to their right when they are passing other boats — just like you do when you are walking in the hall at school.

Always ride at a speed that will let you stay in control so you can stop or go another way if you need to. It's also not a good idea to jump wakes (tracks in the water left by other boats or jet skis) or speed through choppy water, because it's easy to loose control.

Do not ride with a driver who has been drinking alcohol.

Make sure you know and practice what to do if someone falls out of the boat.

Some people teak surf (hold on to the back of the boat and then let go to ride the wave that the boat makes), but you shouldn't copy them. Teak surfers get too close to the boat, don't wear life jackets, and breathe exhaust fumes (chemicals) that the boat makes.

There are a whole lot of ways to have a great time in the water. So, get out there and...

  • Swim like a fish!
  • Feel the rush of riding the rapids while white water rafting!
  • Catch a wave! Go surfing!
  • Break the wake!
  • Make a splash! Try diving!

(Source:  Center for Disease Control http://www.cdc.gov/bam/safety/h2o.html )

Eat Right, Be Bright!

When your child comes home from school or daycare, most likely he or she is probably hungry, and dinner is not yet readily available.  Try these tips for healthy snacks that will give your child the energy they need to play and do homework.

  • Stock your kitchen wisely.  Until they start driving cars and having pocket money of their own, children are more or less beholden to whatever is in your cupboards and fridge.  Shop for a variety of fruits and vegetables in different colors.  Carrots, celery, and jicama are great with dips.  Consider mango or peach salsa, guacamole, or hummus for an added nutritional punch.  Air popped popcorn is a more affordable and healthier alternative to microwave popcorn or chips, and was always my go-to when I was running low on other snacks.  A variety of healthy choices allows your child a say in what they eat, but whatever they choose will be nutritional.  If they protest the choices, be patient.  They’ll usually come around.     
  • Consider traditional breakfast or lunch foods as snack possibilitiesTortillas are so versatile.  Fill one half with scrambled eggs and cheese, or peanut butter and jam, and have your kiddo roll them up!  They are perfect for young hands to carry on the go.  Cooked oatmeal served with cinnamon and raisins can be comforting on a cold winter day.  Or try one of our family favorites, a mini pizza:  Slice a whole wheat English muffin in half.  Top each half with a little tomato or pizza sauce, shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese, and vegetables such as sliced olives, green peppers, etc. or some leftover meat from last night’s dinner (and yes, I’ll admit that I sometimes let them have pepperoni…).  Bake until the cheese melts. 
  • Build your own kebab!   Your child can make their own kebab by threading fruit such as grapes or melon chunks and low-fat cheese onto toothpicks.  Stick toothpicks through cut up “mini sandwiches” and let them play “restaurant”.  Fun times!
  • Other ideas:  Spread peanut or almond butter on rice cakes, decorate with sliced apples, sliced bananas, or raisins.  Use cookie cutters to cut bread or sandwiches into fun shapes (hopefully the cuttings will get eaten too!).  For warmer weather months, try freezing grapes.  Sweet as candy, but much better and refreshing on a hot day!
  • Be a good example. I was never perfect at this, but I did notice that whatever mom ate was cool, and inevitably I had to share.  This included previous untouchables such as broccoli and salmon (You don’t want it?  More for me!).   Once I stopped drinking diet colas because the kids were taking sips and I was worried about the effect of caffeine.  I switched to drinking mineral water thinking surely they wouldn’t want any.  Well, guess what happened?  My oldest two actually developed a taste for it.  That power of example is pretty strong. 
  • You don’t have totally deny your child chips, cookies, candies, processed foods, and the like, but save them as an occasional treat only.  These foods usually have way too much salt and sugar (a manufacturer’s trick to get people to crave more of their product), are calorie dense, and have poor nutritional value.  Any energy they provide will be intense but short term, and you may find your child hungry sooner, with even less energy to function than earlier.

Healthy snacking will give your child the energy they need short term to play and do homework, and will provide nutrition for good health in the long term.  Good health helps increase school performance, and ultimately contributes a happy and successful life!

- By Cheri Greenwood, School Nurse, with help from USDA

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