Swimming and boating are great family activities. But did you know drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional death for children under the age of 14? Statistics reveal an estimated 44 kids drown every year in Canada, while another 130 are hospitalized as a result of near-drowning incidents.
A personal flotation device (PFD) can mean the difference between life and death. A brand to consider is Stearns, a leading manufacturer that meets all Canadian PFD standards.
Here, Pamela Fuselli, executive director, Safe Kids Canada, answers commonly posed questions about how to stay safe while on the water this summer:
Does everyone on a boat have to wear a PFD?
Canadian laws require that recreational boats have one correctly fitted PFD for every person on board. However, nine out of 10 people who drown in boating incidents are not wearing one. While PFDs are designed to keep you afloat in water, they only work if you wear them.
What should I look for when selecting a PFD?
Not all PFDs are the same. Make sure to look for a brightly colored one that meets all Canadian PFD standards and has been approved by the Canadian Coast Guard, Fisheries and Oceans Canada or Transport Canada.
What is the proper way to fit a PFD?
They should fit snugly and not ride up over the ears when the user is in the water. If there is more than 7.6 cm of space between the tops of the shoulders and the PFD – it is too big. Children should also have head support and have a safety strap between the legs.
What are other tips to keep in mind?
- Find out all details on pools and maintenance
- How much hidden pools will cost you?
- The devices are not a replacement for safe water supervision. Adults should lead by example and wear a PFD, always ensuring little ones are within arm’s reach when near the water
- Swimming lessons at any age are important for swimming basics, but also teach you how to make safe and smart choices when playing near water.