By KYLEE RYERS
Just because Nebraska is inland, doesn’t mean that there aren’t beautiful beaches and lakes that are great fun for all the family. Just think of the stunning Lake McConaughy in Ogallala – there are more than 100 miles of beautiful white sands. Or the beautiful Linoma beach located in Gretna. There are plenty of opportunities across the state for watersports and outdoor swimming. Before you head to the beach or the swimming pool though, make sure that you and your family understand the importance of safety in and around the water. More than 800 children accidentally drown every year and more than 3,000 are injured in the water. Many of these are preventable if we practice good water safety.
Safety at the swimming pool
Swimming is great fun, but you should always make sure that your children are supervised, especially if they are still learning to swim and are not confident in the water. They should always have an adult that is within an arm’s reach away from them. If you are at the swimming pool, children should never run – it is extremely easy to slip at the edge of the pool and injure yourself or fall in. Whether you are at the pool, or in a lake, it is also ideal if young swimmers can reach the bottom, for added security.
Safety in boats
If you are visiting one of the Nebraska lakes that is good for boating, such as Lake Wanahoo, or Glenn Cunningham Reservoir, then you will need to educate your children about safety in and around boats. Whether you are paddling a canoe, or sailing a small dinghy, then you should always wear a life preserver jacket that is properly fitting. Before you head out onto the water, make sure that you check the weather forecast and chart a course. You should also make sure that you are wearing sensible clothing and suitable shoes. When you are out in your boat, always keep and eye on the skies for sudden changes and make sure that you don’t go into unknown territory. Don’t forget to take a drink with you, even if you are only planning on being out on the water a short time.
Swimming in the lake
If you are visiting the lake with your children, don’t swim too far from the shoreline and make sure that you look out for hazards, such as protruding rocks. If there are marked designated areas for swimming, don’t go beyond these areas, and always follow important signs, such as “no diving.” Don’t go swimming after dark and make sure that there is always a responsible adult present. Finally, make sure that you take extra care around dams, docks and jetties into the lake – it is a good idea to purchase boat shoes or water shoes that protect the feet and have some grip.
It is essential to follow the rules and use common sense whenever you’re in and around the water. Always supervise your children, even if the water is very shallow – it is far too easy for accidents to happen.