How to stay safe on the water

By Laura Geller - bio | email

Posted by Terry Alexander - email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - With Memorial Day, comes the unofficial start to summer. More people will be spending time on the water. Before you jump in, keep safety in mind.

The pool might not be the only place you spend time in the water this summer. If you're on a lake, a river or any other natural body of water, the most important safety message is wear your life jacket.

"Tragedy will definitely ruin your weekend," said Pocahontas State Park Manager Dan Quesenberry.

Step one starts before you ever get anywhere near the water.

"Make sure that somebody, not with you, knows your itinerary, when you're planning on going, what you're planning on doing and what your estimated return time is," said Quesenberry who has worked at the park since 1998.

Many people think any floatation device will do, but in reality, water safety is not that simple.

It's important to have a U.S.Coast Guard approved life jacket. The traditional water wings won't actually keep your kids as safe as you may think. Your child could drown with only their arms above water.

While having a life jacket inside your boat meets the legal requirements, safety officials think you should go even further.

"If you have it in your boat and your boat accidentally capsizes, you won't have time to put it on. And of course, fit is essential to the device working properly," said Quesenberry. "It needs to be snug so if you do fall in the water because of an incident, it will not pop off of you and you won't pop through it. It will stay attached to you so that your head will stay above water."

While eight-year-old Zachary Galli is really only excited about summer because he doesn't have to go to school, his mother will make sure he knows these tips wherever they go on summer vacation.

"There's so many places that they do encounter water, whether it's birthday parties, or at a friend's house and you know I might not always be there," said Gail Galli.

It may be easy to forget, but another important thing to keep in mind is to stay hydrated. Drink lots of water as opposed to alcohol or any other type of beverage.

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