With the weather finally ramping up to those beautiful summer days, this is the time everyone’s hustling to get out and enjoy all Florida’s many waterways has to offer. From the neighborhood pool to Indian River to the Atlantic Ocean, we Floridians are lucky to have so many swimming and other water recreation opportunities surrounding us. That said, playing and working in water has its inherent risks and it’s important for everyone to know safe water practices so that they and their loved ones can stay safe as they enjoy the water.
May is the nation’s official Water Safety Month and so it’s a good time for an introduction or refresher on important water safety tips that’ll keep everyone safe whether they’re swimming in a pool or deep sea fishing out in the Atlantic.
Your Guide to Safe Water Tips From Pool to Ocean
- Check your fencing. All outdoor Florida pools are required by law to have a 4-foot fence or similar barrier around its entire perimeter with no gaps. If you have a pool, now is a good time to do an inspection to ensure it’s in great condition and the gate latches properly close.
- Teach children (and adults) how to swim. Anyone who gets in the water should have basic swimming skills. For those who don’t, please consider taking a lesson either at the YMCA (the largest resource for adult swim lessons) or somewhere else. It’s never too late to learn!
- Always supervise kids. Kids should always have close and uninterrupted supervision by at least one responsible adult.
- Be smart about rip currents. If you see any signs that warn of a dangerous rip current, be smart and do as advised to stay away from that area. If you are swimming and encounter a rip current, which is a narrow channel of fast-moving water that sweeps from the beach out to the ocean, don’t panic and swim against it! Instead, swim as parallel to the shore with the current as you can, and then once you’re out of the fastest moving part, angle back and make your way to shore. Trying to fight a rip current is nigh impossible for even Olympic swimmers — so don’t do it!
- Dive under large waves. Large, rougish waves aren’t uncommon here and can be dangerous if they crash atop an unsuspecting person. Be safe and watch the waves as they near you. If you spot a large wave about to break, dive under and advise the same to anyone swimming with you.
- Swim in the day. Swimming at dawn, dusk, and under the night sky may have romantic undertones, but it’s not a smart idea. These are the hours you’re most likely to encounter a predator and the low visibility makes it hard to see if you or someone you’re swimming with needs help.
- Get the right lifejackets. When stocking your boat with lifejackets (law requires a lifejacket for every person aboard whether it’s a kayak or mega-yacht), make sure everyone has a properly fitting one.
- Body parts inside when underway. Make sure children keep all of their body parts inside a boat when underway.
- Never swim near the outboard. Even when the engine is turned off, a boat prop is sharp and can slice through the skin.
- Be wary of weather and tides. A beautiful day on the boat can turn into a disaster if you don’t properly prepare for large tidal shifts or sudden weather changes (not uncommon during Florida summers). You can check tides online before you go or (recommended) download a boating app like Navionics for use throughout your trip. Navionics and similar apps feature beautiful graphics and great user-interfaces that make it easy for users to plan out safe boating routes and prepare for tidal shifts. When it comes to weather, check local conditions before departure and plan to get off the water if you notice any darkening clouds, sudden drops in temperatures, or rough, changing winds.
At Hayley’s Boat Rental, water safety is our number one priority. When you come down to rent a boat, we’ll make sure to go through these and other key water safety tips to ensure you both have a blast on the water and are safe in doing so.