Summertime is boating time. Banner Health, along with the National Park Service, wants you and your family to stay safe at the lake this summer. Overall, it is important to prepare yourself for a day at the lake and observe common-sense precautions as well as general safety rules to keep you and your family safe while you sail, swim or enjoy yourself around the water.
Despite the best precautions, accidents can still happen. Banner Health and the National Park Service offer these tips to prevent and handle any emergency that may come up.
First and foremost: Wear a life jacket!
Children under 13 are required by state and federal law to wear a properly-fitting, Coast Guard-approved life jacket anytime they are onboard any boat.
People on personal watercraft must wear a life jacket regardless of their age, as must anybody being towed by a boat (skiing, tubing, etc). Everyone else must have an appropriately sized life jacket "readily accessible." Of course, the best practice is to be wearing your life jacket!
Children should never be allowed to operate personal watercraft--Jet Skis, Sea Doos, Waverunners and other such boats. Like any other motorboat, the operator must be at least 14 years of age and have completed a boating safety course if under 18.
Common injuries that bring lake visitors to the Emergency department:
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon Monoxide (CO) can affect passengers in boats, whether they are at speed, anchored or idling. CO levels from boat exhaust can reach critical levels in a short time.
- You cannot see, smell, or taste CO
- Keep away from engine and generator exhaust outlets.
- Never sit, teak surf, or hang on the back deck or swim platform while the engines are running.
- Never enter areas under swim platform where exhaust outlets are located.
- Install and maintain CO alarms inside your boat. Do not ignore any alarm.
Symptoms of CO poisoning include:
- Severe headache, dizziness, confusion, nausea, fainting.
- When the concentrations of CO is high, unconsciousness can be the first sign of CO poisoning and this can occur without any of those symptoms
- If you suspect CO poisoning, immediately get the victim to fresh air and seek medical care.
Sources of CO poisoning:
- Inadequately ventilated canvas enclosures.
- Exhaust gas trapped in enclosed places.
- Blocked exhaust outlets.
- Another vessel’s exhaust.
Dehydration is often the underlying cause of sickness and accidents on the lake.
- Drink eight to 10 eight-ounce glasses of water daily or more during extreme heat, low humidity or activity.
- Avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages.
- Protect your skin: wear sunscreen, protective clothing, and reduce activity during the hottest part of the day (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.).
- Check the color your urine. It should be a pale yellow, like the color of straw. If it is dark, drink more fluids.
If you become dehydrated:
- Stop activity, rest and get out of direct sunlight. Drink 64 oz of cool liquids (including rehydration fluids) over the next two to four hours.
- Seek medical attention if...
- Dizziness, weakness, confusion, fainting, fast-beating heart or no urination for eight hours.
Broken glass, sharp metal, clam shells, fishing hooks, sticks and other sharp plant life are easily hidden beneath the sand and water.
- Most bleeding can be stopped with direct pressure with a clean, dry cloth.
- Cleanse the wound with gentle soap and water to help reduce the chance of infection.
- You may need a tetanus shot if you have not had one in a long time.
Please seek medical attention if:
- The wound keeps bleeding or pain in the wound gets worse.
- You have a high temperature or signs of infection
- (redness, pus, or red streaks leading from the wound).
- You have numbness or swelling below the wound, or you cannot move the joint below the wound.
Impacts from wakes can cause a boat passenger to be thrown into the air and land forcefully back onto the boat.
If you have been injured by a wake:
- Lie down on your back on a very firm, flat surface, and keep still until medics can reach you, or you can obtain medical attention.
- If you have any numbness, weakness, loss of control of urine or stool, radio for help immediately.
- Slow down when passing boats.
- Approach large boat wakes at a 45-degree angle.
- Warn all passengers to hold on when approaching a large wake.
- Bow riding (sitting on the top front part of the boat) is illegal unless the boat is designed for people to ride in the bow section (the bow section will have seats).
- Look at the size of the wake, not the size of the boat. Depending on hull design, even relatively smaller boats can produce serious wakes.
- Be aware of wakes and waves that bounce back and forth between canyon walls