Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks officials want to remind families who are enjoying Montana’s waterways to keep safety in mind.  Montana’s many rivers, lakes and reservoirs offer great opportunities to enjoy some summer fun.  When we are having fun in the water, safety isn’t always the first thing that comes to mind. But whenever you recreate near water, extra precautions are necessary.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that drowning is the fifth leading cause of unintentional injury death for people of all ages, and the second leading cause of injury death for children ages 1 to 14 years. 

Here are some safety tips when recreating near water:

  • Make sure an adult is constantly watching children swimming or playing in or around the water. Do not read, talk on the phone or engage in any other distracting activity while supervising children.
  • Don't consider your children to be "drown-proof" because you enrolled them in swimming class. A child who falls into water unexpectedly may panic and forget learned swimming skills.
  • Always swim with a buddy.  Never swim alone or unsupervised
  • Know the local weather conditions and forecast before swimming or boating. Strong winds and thunderstorms with lightning strikes are dangerous to swimmers and boaters.
  • Don’t use air-filled or foam toys, such as water-wings, noodles, or inner-tubes, in place of life jackets (PFDs). These are toys and are not designed to keep a swimmer safe. 
  • When boating, children 11 years of age and younger must wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket. 
  • Jumping from cliffs or bridges is dangerous because of shallow water, submerged rocks, trees, or other hazards. Never dive head first into water.
  • Never drink alcohol before or while swimming or boating.  Never drink alcohol while supervising children.

Many Montana state parks have loaner life jacket programs in place. Contact the park you are planning on visiting to find out more information.

For more information about Montana’s boating rules and safety tips check the FWP website at fwp.mt.gov. Click “Recreation” then choose "Boating Safety".

Source: Liz Lodman, Boat Education Coordinator, 406-444-9940llodman@mt.gov.

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