Clear Lake Property Owners Association Clear Lake Property Owners Association
Water Safety

Drowning is one of the leading causes of death for Canadian children aged one to four. And for every toddler who dies from drowning, it is estimated there are three to five additional near drownings, which require hospitalization.

While you enjoy your time around the lake this summer, please consider these important safety tips provided by the Canadian & American Red Cross Associations:

General Water Safety Tips

  • Learn to swim. The best thing anyone can do to stay safe in and around the water is to learn to swim. Always swim with a buddy; never swim alone. The Canadian Red Cross has swimming courses for people of any age and swimming ability.
  • Remember that drowning doesn't look like what most people expect it to. (2012 CLPOA Newsletter, 243Kb)
  • Children or inexperienced swimmers should take precautions, such as wearing an approved personal floatation device (PFD) when around the water.
    • Lifejacket Safety Checklist
      • Is it Canadian-approved?
      • Will it support the person it was made for?
      • Are all the snaps, belts, ties, tapes and/or zippers on your lifejacket or PFD in good condition?
      • Is it easy to put on and take off?
      • Can you move your arms freely when wearing it?
      • Does it let you bend at the waist?
      • Can you see the ground at your feet and walk over obstacles easily?
      • Does it keep your head above water?
      • Relax in the water face down. Does your lifejacket roll you to a face-up position?
      • Can you swim and manoeuvre easily in the water?
      • Have you attached a whistle to your flotation device?
  • Watch out for the dangerous "too's" - too tired, too cold, too far from safety, too much sun, too much strenuous activity.
  • Set water safety rules for the whole family based on swimming abilities (for example, inexperienced swimmers should stay in water less than chest deep).
  • Be knowledgeable of the water environment you are in and its potential hazards, such as deep and shallow areas, currents, depth charges, obstructions and where the entry and exit points are located. The more informed you are, the more aware you will be of hazards and safe practices.
  • Pay attention to local weather conditions and forecasts. Stop swimming at the first indication of bad weather.
  • Make sure the water is deep enough before entering headfirst. Too many swimmers are seriously injured every year by entering headfirst into water that is too shallow. A feet first entry is much safer than diving.
  • When diving, ensure water is at least 10 feet deep, deep enough for the entire path of the dive, and that no rocks or debris are in the way. The length of a typical dive depends on a variety of factors, such as height of dive and size of diver.
  • Be sure rafts and docks are in good condition, with no loose boards or exposed nails. Never swim under a raft or dock. Always look before jumping off a dock or raft to be sure no one is in the way.
  • Do not mix alcohol with swimming, diving or boating. Alcohol impairs your judgment, balance, and coordination, affects your swimming and diving skills, and reduces your body's ability to stay warm.
  • Know how to prevent, recognize, and respond to emergencies.

Keeping Children Safe In, On, and Around the Water

  • Maintain constant supervision. Watch children around any water environment (pool, stream, lake, tub, toilet, bucket of water), no matter what skills your child has acquired and no matter how shallow the water. For younger children, practice "Reach Supervision" by staying within an arm's length reach.
  • Don't rely on substitutes. The use of flotation devices and inflatable toys cannot replace parental supervision. Such devices could suddenly shift position, lose air, or slip out from underneath, leaving the child in a dangerous situation.
  • Enroll children in a water safety course or Learn-to-Swim classes. Your decision to provide your child with an early aquatic experience is a gift that will have infinite rewards. These courses encourage safe practices.
  • Parents should take a CPR course. Knowing these skills can be important around the water and you will expand your capabilities in providing care for your child.

Boating/Jet Skiing

  • Power boaters need to have their Pleasure Craft Operator Card in order to operate a boat.
  • Use extreme caution around swimmers and canoers. Run your watercraft at a slow speed until the craft is away from shore, swimming areas, and docks. Avoid passing close to other boats and jumping wakes. This behavior is dangerous and illegal.
  • Ensure everyone in the boat has their lifejacket on and fastened. Even in nice weather, even close to shore - 200 people drown every year in Canada. Lifejackets really do save lives.
  • Have everyone try on their lifejacket to see that it still fits and that all the zippers and buckles are in good working order.
  • Alcohol and boating don't mix. Alcohol impairs your judgment, balance, and coordination -- over 50 percent of drownings result from boating incidents involving alcohol. For the same reasons it is dangerous to operate an automobile while under the influence of alcohol, people should not operate a boat while drinking alcohol.
  • Develop a float plan. Anytime you go out in a boat, give a responsible person details about where you will be and how long you will be gone. This is important because if the boat is delayed because of an emergency, becomes lost, or encounters other problems, you want help to be able to reach you.
  • Find a boating course in your area -- these courses teach about navigation rules, emergency procedures and the effects of wind, water conditions, and weather.
  • Watch the weather: Know local weather conditions and prepare for electrical storms. Watch local news programs. Stop boating as soon as you see or hear a storm.

Skiing and Tubing

  • Always wear a life jacket.
  • Be sure the boat and ski equipment are in good shape.
  • Always turn the boat motor completely off when you approach a fallen skier.
  • Watch the water ahead of you at all times.
  • Have an extra person aboard as "spotter" to watch and assist the skier.
  • Run parallel to shore and come in slowly when landing. Sit down if coming in too fast.
  • Use proper hand signals to signal boat operator.
  • Do not ski at night or in restricted areas (such as the shoals).

Sailboarding and Windsurfing

  • Always wear a life jacket.
  • Wear a wet suit in cold water to prevent hypothermia.
  • You need good physical strength and swimming ability. The Canadian Red Cross has swimming courses for people of any age and swimming ability.
  • Take windsurfing lessons from a qualified instructor.
  • Know local weather conditions. Make sure the water and weather conditions are safe. Because water conducts electricity, it is wise to stop swimming, boating or any activities on the water as soon as you see or hear a storm.

Snorkeling

  • Practice in shallow water.
  • Check the equipment carefully and know how it functions.
  • Learn how to clear water from the snorkel.
  • Learn how to put your mask back on when you tread water.
  • Be careful not to swim too far from shore or the boat.
  • Never snorkel alone.

Sun Safety

  • Protect your skin: Sunlight contains two kinds of UV rays -- UVA increases the risk of skin cancer, skin aging, and other skin diseases. UVB causes sunburn and can lead to skin cancer. Limit the amount of direct sunlight you receive between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. and wear a sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least 15.
  • Drink plenty of water regularly and often even if you do not feel thirsty. Your body needs water to keep cool.
    • Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine in them. They can make you feel good briefly but make the heat's effects on your body worse. This is especially true with beer, which dehydrates the body.
  • Watch for signs of heat stroke: Heat stroke is life-threatening. The person's temperature control system, which produces sweating to cool the body, stops working.
    • The body temperature can rise so high that brain damage and death may result if the body is not cooled quickly.
    • Signals of heat stroke include:
      • Hot, red, and usually dry skin, but in some cases such as during athletic activity while wearing a helmet, the skin may be moist
      • Changes in consciousness
      • Rapid, weak pulse, and
      • Rapid, shallow breathing.
    • Call 911
    • Move the person to a cooler place.
    • Quickly cool the body by wrapping wet sheets around the body and fan it. If you have ice packs or cold packs, place them on each of the victim's wrists and ankles, in the armpits and on the neck to cool the large blood vessels.
    • Watch for signals of breathing problems and make sure the airway is clear.
    • Keep the person lying down.
  • Wear eye protection
    • Sunglasses are like sunscreen for your eyes and protect against damage that can occur from UV rays.
    • Be sure to wear sunglasses with labels that indicate that they absorb at least 90 percent of UV sunlight.
  • Wear foot protection. Many times, people's feet can get burned from the sand.