Soon, Minnesota’s 10,000-plus lakes will be calling as the sun beats down and the season gradually warms toward summer. As the season ramps up, it’s a good time to review water and swimming safety. Each year, more than 5,000 kids are seen in emergency rooms across the country for near-drowning incidents and more than 1,000 children die of unintentional drowning each year, the majority of those between May and August. It’s essential to practice safe swimming every time we take a dip.
Review our tips to stay safe in the water all year long:
Be a Water Watcher
The first line of defense is the water watcher: a responsible adult keeping an eye on the kids while they’re swimming – even with a lifeguard present. Adults should be sure they are within arm’s reach of infants and toddlers, even in the kiddie pool. Having an eye on the kids, even in 15-minute shifts among the adults, helps.
Teach Your Children the Buddy System
Swim with a buddy and know where their buddy is at all times. If someone goes missing, tell an adult immediately. Many public pools have buddy checks and safety breaks throughout the day, so make sure your kids know the rules at the pool.
Get CPR Certified
You’ll want to know how to help someone before an ambulance arrives, if necessary. Encourage your children, if they are of the right age, to do so as well.
Check the Laws for Children
Wearing a Coast Guard approved life jacket is required for all children under the age of 10 while on a watercraft in Minnesota. Parents should make sure that children stay in designated swimming areas. Water wings, noodles, and floating rafts are fun, but they should never be used as a substitute for a life jacket.
Get a Life Jacket Loan
If you don’t have life jackets and you still want to adventure out on a local lake, check out The Kid’s Don’t Float life jacket loaner boxes, which are sponsored by North Memorial Health’s Safe Kids coalition and located at boat launches throughout Hennepin County. Borrow life jackets for the day and return them when you’re done. Loaner sites include:
- Lake Independence at Baker Park Reserve in Maple Plain
- Medicine Lake at French Park in Plymouth
- Bryant Lake at Bryant Lake Regional Park in Eden Prairie
- Maxwell, Grays, and Spring Park Bays on Lake Minnetonka