Top 10 Lake Safety Rules

During the summer, many Alabama residents head to the lake to enjoy boating and water sports. While having fun, it’s important to take precautions to keep you and your family safe.

Our Birmingham personal injury lawyers at Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton are sharing best practices for lake safety.

Top 10 Lake Safety Rules

Make Lake Safety a priority with these important rules:

Always Wear a Life Jacket

It’s not always possible to prevent an accident on the water. Even if you’re a strong swimmer, you could still find yourself in a risky situation.

Federal regulations require that all children under 13 years of age wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket at all times while out on the water. Boats are also required to have U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets for every person on board.

Know the Signs of Drowning

While many people imagine someone screaming for help and thrashing around, drownings often happen quickly and quietly.

Be on the lookout for these signs of active drowning, when a person only has seconds before dying:

  • Silence – Children who are hyperventilating won’t be screaming for help
  • Head tilted back – this position is an instinctive effort to keep the airway clear of water.
  • Arms moving downward
  • Floating face-down – If someone is horizontal and face-down for more than 30 seconds, be worried. Don’t assume they are simply floating.
  • Bobbing, treading water, or clinging to something

Know What to Do If Someone Falls Overboard

The United States Sailing Association (USSA) advises following these steps if someone falls overboard. Call 911 or make a distress call on the boat radio if you need help at any time during this process.

  1. Yell “man overboard” and stop the boat as soon as you realize someone has fallen overboard.
  2. Turn the boat while having one person watch the victim and call out his/her position.
  3. “Litter the water” around the victim with flotation devices.
  4. Press the “man overboard” button on the GPS chart plotter, if available.
  5. Approach from downwind or down current, and keep the boat at a slow, controllable speed.
  6. Once you are close enough, throw a flotation device with 50 feet of line attached.
  7. Once the victim has grabbed the line or flotation device, shift the boat out of gear and start pulling him/her in.
  8. Attach a boarding device if needed, and grab the victim under the arms to pull him/her in.
  9. Get the victim warm and dry and call for help immediately if they need medical assistance.

If you fall overboard, stay calm and don’t waste energy by thrashing around.

Don’t Go Out on the Water Alone

Whether you are swimming, kayaking, boating, or diving, you should always have a buddy with you. That way someone is there to help if you are injured. If you do choose to go out on the water alone, tell people where you are going and when you expect to return home.

Stay Hydrated and Protect Yourself from the Sun

On a hot summer day, it’s possible to lose up to a liter of water an hour through sweating and evaporation. Remember to drink plenty of water, even if you don’t feel thirsty.

Too much UV radiation from the sun is harmful. Wear sunglasses, sunscreen, and a wide-brimmed hat and take breaks in the shade.

Watch the Weather

Check the weather forecast before going to the lake. But even if the forecast is clear, weather conditions can change quickly. If it looks like a thunderstorm may be approaching, head back to the shore.

Watch Out for Hazards When Boating

When operating a boat, keep an eye out for navigational hazards like piers, swim platforms, mooring buoys, etc. Getting too close could lead to a collision.

Assign Someone to Be Your Boat’s “Spotter”

It’s important to make sure someone is always paying attention to water as well as other vessels and swimmers. Designate a person to be the official “spotter” responsible for alerting the captain of any hazards.

Understand Hand Signals When Skiing or Tubing

Before skiing or tubing, make sure everyone understands the hand signals so those in the boat can communicate with those being towed. Hand signals allow the person skiing or tubing to quickly indicate they want to be pulled in, that they are okay, and more.

Take a Water Safety Course

Anyone can find themselves in an emergency situation and it’s best to be prepared. A water safety course will teach you how to respond should the unexpected happen.

Call Our Birmingham Personal Injury Lawyers After a Lake Accident

Although taking precautions is important, accidents can still happen. If you or a loved one was injured due to someone else’s negligence, our Birmingham personal injury lawyers can help you file a claim for compensation. Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newell has been in business for more than 130 years, and we have recovered more than $2 Billion on behalf of clients.

Contact us today for a free consultation.

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